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Where's Waldo celebrates 25th anniversary in the Hudson Valley
Where's Waldo, the cartoon character who wears glasses, a red-and-white striped shirt and a red-and-white hat, is notoriously difficult to find in the many children's books dedicated to him. But for the rest of July, he'll be spotted all over the Hudson Valley.
The “Where's Waldo” children’s books celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, and publisher Candlewick Press, along with the American Booksellers Association, is commemorating Waldo by partnering with independent bookstores across the country for “Find Waldo” events. Many Hudson Valley booksellers are participating in the month-long celebration, which invites kids to seek out the bespectacled character at local businesses. It’s an ideal way to spur children’s interest in books as well as a way to support the small business community.
Here’s how the contest works: “Waldo” figures are hidden at 20 local retail stores, and kids who locate him receive an “I Found Waldo” card. After a certain number of cards are collected, they can be turned into the local bookstore and redeemed for a Waldo button (while supplies last). Many of the bookstores are hosting Waldo parties on July 31, in which participants will be entered in grand prize drawings for fun prizes (details below).
Wanda Sgarlata, co-owner of Womrath Books in Bronxville, said close to 200 kids have participated in “Find Waldo” at her bookstore so far. She said Waldo’s continued popularity with children is due to the simple fact that “he’s just really fun to find,” adding that the books are “a very good teaching tool, because it teaches kids to search for Waldo methodically.” Sgarlata also noted that “adults have a much have a much harder time finding him than kids do."
Although grown-ups might struggle with identifying Waldo in his picture books, Francine Lucidon, owner of The Voracious Reader in Larchmont, says she’s enjoyed seeing them accompany their children on the quest for Waldo.
“What I’m seeing are kids and parents going around town doing this. It’s not something that they had to sign up for in advance or pay for. They’re just doing this fun, simple thing together and having a great time.”
Here is a list of participating local bookstores:
The Golden Notebook in Woodstock: The Golden Notebook is sponsoring a "Where’s Waldo" scavenger hunt at the Woodstock Farm Festival on July 25. Starting at 4 p.m., kids can search for Waldo at the farmers market, where vendors will have him hidden in their displays. Store owner Jacqueline Kellachan said The Golden Notebook (29 Tinker St., 845-679-8000; www.goldennotebook.com) also plans to have a scavenger hunt at local Woodstock stores over a longer period of time, with the date to be determined. The Woodstock Farmers Market is at 6 Maple Lane.
Womrath Books in Bronxville: Womrath’s “Find Waldo” event wraps up with a party on July 31 at 3 p.m., in which kids who collected 16 out of 20 cards will be entered into a grand prize drawing for prizes and other “little surprises” (76 Pondfield Rd., 914-337-0199; womrath.com). A certain visitor wearing red-and-white stripes might also drop by.
Oblong Books in Millerton and Rhinebeck: Both bookstores are holding “Great Waldo Celebrations” at their respective locations on July 31 from 4 to 6 p.m. (26 Main St., Millerton, 518-789-3797; 6422 Montgomery Row, Rhinebeck, 845-876-0500; www.oblongbooks.com). The rules for Oblong’s prize drawings echo Womrath’s, with a 6-book deluxe set of the Waldo books among the major prizes kids can win.
The Voracious Reader in Larchmont: The Waldo anniversary party will be held at 3 p.m. on July 31 (1997 Palmer Ave., 914-630-4581 thevoraciousreader.com). The festivities will feature a raffle of “all the wonderful gifts donated by local merchants,” Lucidon said. Along with a grand prize drawing similar to the ones above, the party will also have games, puzzles and Waldo-themed cupcakes from the store’s tea shop, A Proper Cup.
Photo: Ben and Scott Morris, first of the Waldo Seekers to claim their Waldo pins at the "Find Waldo" event at The Voracious Reader in Larchmont.