FAIR HAVEN – If you’re in the borough and see children in red-and white striped buccaneer shirts frantically scurrying from store to store, pointing and carrying blue treasure maps in their hands, don’t be alarmed. You have just stumbled upon River Road Book’s Where’s Waldo Hunt.
River Road Books, 759 River Road, one of only two independent bookstores left in Monmouth County, read about the idea from another store that ran a similar contest and enjoyed raves from the community.
“We thought it would be fun – we knew the children would love it,” said Laurie Potter, one of the bookstore owners. “If any place gets behind an event for their children, especially one that promotes a love of reading and books, Fair Haven’s the town.”
Estimating local interest was one thing. What the bookstore didn’t count on was how much the local business owners would get into it when the store sent an e-mail about the plans.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response!” said Karen Rumage, another bookstore owner. By the e-mail’s deadline, 30 local businesses had signed up, agreeing to pick up and hide an 8½-by-11 sized picture of Waldo somewhere in their store.
The shop owners have shown great imagination and ingenuity with where they put Waldo. Tavalo Pronto moves Waldo around. One day he’s on top of the cabinet; come back in and you could be surprised to find he’s cooling off in the deli case.
Stewart’s Plumbing, which has no storefront, put him on their truck. Maureen Bay of Gem of An Idea said one Waldo hunter labeled her shop as “just training” for his “big search” to follow at the Acme down the street.
The Where’s Waldo Hunt is part of the monthlong anniversary celebration of “Where’s Waldo,” the popular children’s book series by Martin Handford. Handford first introduced readers to the challenge of finding the red-and-white shirted Waldo in various crowd scenes in his hand-drawn books, 25 years ago.
The grand finale, held at River Road Books from 4:30 to 5:30 on Thursday, Aug. 30, will be a Where’s Waldo Birthday Celebration. Children will enjoy a piece of cake and raise a glass of punch to Waldo, who at that party, at least, will be easy to find.