Waldo will be in Telluride July 1 – July 15. Join Between the Covers Bookstore in the search.

Can you believe it? The world has been searching for the iconic fellow in the striped shirt and black-rimmed spectacles for 25 years.

To celebrate the milestone – and the 55 million “Where’s Waldo?” books in print –  Waldo’s publisher, Candlewick Press, and the American Booksellers Association have created a national event to celebrate a quarter century of addictive eye-squinting and Telluride is one of the 250 towns across the land chosen to participate in “Find Waldo Local.”

The idea is based on a promotion staged just last year by Eight Cousins Bookstore in Falmouth, Massachusetts. It was such a success that the area merchants wanted a repeat performance. Little did they know their efforts would become a national shop-local campaign. As a participant, Between the Covers Bookstore is hosting a two-week long scavenger hunt to find Waldo in 20 of Telluride’s local businesses. All 6 inches of him (see the pic of him hanging out on the ladder at BTC) will be strategically “hidden” by shopkeepers of all kinds. To get started, stop in at BTC, find our Waldo, and then proceed to the other 19 businesses on the hunt list. Once a Waldo is located, each establishment will give the Waldo-spotter a card that verifies their contact with Waldo. If at least 16 Waldo cards are handed in to BTC, the seeker is entered into the final drawing at the end of the promotion. Prizes are, of course, Waldo books. From several super-fun postcard collections to the much-desired boxed set of the original six hardcovers.

Some backstory on the voyager with the ever-present walking stick and the man behind it all: Waldo’s creator, Martin Handford.

Handford was a young Londoner with an art degree working as a freelance illustrator when an art director at a publishing company commissioned a children’s book based on Handford’s unique specialty of drawing crowd scenes. He had been developing the busy but interesting style since childhood, at first drawing detailed scenes of stick figures inspired by stacked up toy soldiers. Some likened his style to Hieronymus Bosch. On average, every two-page spread takes about eight weeks to complete. Handford admits there’s no rhyme or reason for where Waldo appears, he simply keeps drawing until “a good place to include him” presents itself. Interestingly, Handford’s homegrown style of wall-to-wall humanity took a backseat to the traveler early on: “As it turns out, the fans were more interested in the character than in the crowd scenes.”

Book by book, new characters began making their mark: Wenda (Waldo’s twin sister), Woof (Waldo’s dog, whose tail-only appearances began in 1990), Odlaw (Waldo’s yellow-and-black striped nemesis named by spelling Waldo backwards), the Waldo Watchers (copycat dressers who follow along on the adventures), and who doesn’t love Wizard Whitebeard? If you’ve seen the internationally available books on your travels, you may have noticed that Waldo is only Waldo in North America. In the British Commonwealth, he’s actually Wally. It was changed to Waldo by American publishers upon publication in 1987 in order to “resonate.” This customization practice was repeated around the globe. Waldo is Charlie in France, Hetti in India and Sri Lanka, Effy in Israel, and the list of 28 variations goes on and on. With such galactic appeal, it’s no wonder that the first “Where’s Waldo?” book spent more than 93 weeks at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers list!

Twenty-five years later, Waldo goes local in Telluride. The kickoff day for the hunt is Sunday, July 1st, and will continue through sundown on Sunday, July 15th. The following weekend, on Friday, July 20th, all seekers are asked to gather at BTC for a party and the final prize drawing. Although the winner need not be present, we’d love to have you there in person.
FYI: When asked to appear as Waldo at the party, our fearless mayor seemed game for it. (If you have a Stu Fraser-sized red-and-white striped shirt to lend, give us a call.)

What a great way to get Telluride’s locals and visitors to patronize shops with their kids or grandkids. In addition, the prospect of strengthening alliances within our business community is priceless. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Collaborate or die. It took only 36 hours for all of the available slots to be filled, a nod to the enthusiasm of these merchants that will be participating: The Sweet Life, Aromatherapy Day Spa, Zia Sun, Cashmere Red, Sunglass HQ, Black Bear Trading, Telluride Trappings and Toggery, Apotheca, Scarpe, Telluride Sports, Picaya, Mountain Tails, Gravity Works, The HUB, Baked in Telluride, Luxwest, Needlerock Fiber Arts, Paragon Sports, and Telluride Truffle.

So mark your calendar and let your summer visitors know about “Find Waldo Local.” Then take a wander about town, enjoying what local businesses have to offer besides their wares: a hello, a smile, a thanks.

See you and yours on July 1st!

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