Where’s Waldo? Comes Alive at Washington Square Park on Saturday


Where’s Waldo? The question we’ve all been asking since childhood will be answered Saturday. Here’s a hint: he’s somewhere around Washington Square Park. Or at least a version of him. Teams of two wearing red and white stripes will be hunting for the elusive children’s book character come to life as part of a game dreamed up by Parsons grad and graphic designer Katie Richanbach.

The idea was born out of seeing a person dressed as Waldo in Union Square on Halloween one year. “I thought how much fun would it be to play a life-sized game of Where’s Waldo? with real people,” she told us over the phone this morning. From there, Richanbach organized two iterations of the game while she was a student at The New School two years ago.

Here’s how the game is played: five of Richanbach’s friends are dressed up as the main characters from the books. These include, of course, Waldo, Waldo’s girlfriend, Wenda, Waldo’s dog, Woof, Waldo’s nemesis, Odlaw, and Wizard Whitebeard. Participants, called Waldo-Watchers, pair off and are given a checklist that includes the names of these characters along with other objects and people, such as a store sign or a “guy wearing a plaid shirt,” found in the neighborhood, which includes Washington Square Park and its surrounding blocks.

The Waldo-Watchers must attempt to find and take pictures with as many of the items on the checklist as possible in an hour’s time. The team with the most checked-off wins a prize: a Where’s Waldo? book and Where’s Waldo? New York City medals made by Richanbach herself. She explained that all of the costumes are handmade “to kind of give it the feeling of a hand-drawn book.”

Waldo-Watchers are told to also wear red and white stripes.

“It will add to the confusion,” Richanbach said. “If you read Waldo books growing up you were always, ‘Oh, there’s a red and white stripe,’ and then you were like, ‘Oh, that’s not actually Waldo, that’s just a guy in a red and white striped swimming suit.’ That’s part of the fun. A couple years ago when we did it there was a student organization that was doing an event in the park and they were all wearing red and white, so that just added to the fun of it.”

Waldo-Watchers must sign up beforehand. When we spoke with Richanbach this morning there were between 10 and 15 teams signed up, but she said she’s expecting more today.