ST. CLOUD - You may have noticed a surge of people with their eyes fixed to their smartphone screens at Lake George or Munsinger Gardens.

Chances are, they’re catching Pokemon on the new Pokemon GO app.

Pokemon Go is an augmented reality game where players search real world places to find Pokemon (fictional creatures with different powers and abilities) on their phones. Players can find the creatures in parks, their backyard, at the mall or at local statues and landmarks.

On a nice day, hundreds have flocked to Lake George. The parking lot has been completely full at times over the past week since the game was released.

Parks are popular hotspots in the game to catch Pokemon or re-stock on items.

Many have flocked to the Lake George Granite structure - a popular Pokestop (Dan DeBaun, WJON)

"Yesterday I was here by myself for two to three hours and then I hooked my girlfriend on it, and we were here for another three hours," Joshua Patino says.

"With everybody here now, I don't think there's a single person actually just walking. Everybody is on their phones and I've never seen the parking lot this full either," Brendan Ironi says.

The game serves as a social connection for many players, with game tips and advice being exchanged. Some are even carpooling to hotspots in town. Just about everyone I spoke to at Lake George admitted to playing the game, or knowing someone who does. For those who play, it’s hasn't been hard to spot a fellow Pokemon trainer.

"I even saw a lady with a stroller and three other kids who was playing the game. I also saw two people the other day on bikes who stopped with their phones out ready to go," Symantha and Desiree Fleck-Caruthers said.

For some, the game is a return to their childhood when Pokemon first emerged. Some have been spending hours in groups finding their creatures into the late evening when the parks close.

"Today I'll be here for probably four or five hours until my girlfriend is off work," Patino says.

A St. Cloud Pokemon Go Facebook group recently surpassed 300 people. To learn more about the game, you can click here.


A group of Pokemon Go players at Lake George. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)