Andover's annual quest to find Waldo is well underway, and local businesses say children and adults of all ages have been traversing Main Street to find the popular children's book character.
For years, the Andover Bookstore has organized a "Where's Waldo" themed scavenger hunt in July. Children of any age can get a "passport" from one of 17 participating Andover businesses. Once they find the 6-inch tall Waldo figure hidden at a participating business, an employee will stamp or sign the child's passport. Once children have 15 stamps, they will receive a coupon for a "Where's Waldo" book, an "I found Waldo" pin, and are also entered into a raffle to win a deluxe "Where's Waldo" set, a classic "Where's Waldo" book, or a Waldo-themed coloring book.
Children can also earn stamps for finding Waldo's girlfriend, Wenda, at the Andover Bookstore. One of five items belonging to Waldo can also be found for a stamp at the bookstore, including a scroll, a key, binoculars, a camera, and a dog bone. Waldo's canine companion, Woof, can also be found for a stamp at the Campus Collection at 40 Main St.
Children aren't the only ones joining in on the "Where's Waldo" fun, however. Adults and teens have set about to fill their passports with Waldo sightings on Main Street as well.
"There are even adults that come in," said Andover Bookstore Manager Megan Keefe. "Waldo is a big part of a kid's childhood. For adults it was a bit part of their childhood, too."
Participating businesses include Andover Bookstore, Campus Collection, Les Fluers, Sweet Mimi's Chocolates, D'Agostino's Deli, King's Subs, Kokee Flowers, Starbucks, Memorial Hall Library, Andover Center for History and Culture, Learning Express, Circles of Wisdom, Ultimate Perk, Bueno Malo, Perry's Plate, Verizon Wireless and Dunkin Donuts.
"It brings a lot of people into the store, which is great," said Mimi Queen, owner of Sweet Mimi's.
"They get very excited," Queen added of the children who find the Waldo figurine hidden in her shop. "Parents say it's hard to find Waldo in this store because there's so much color, but they do find him."
Queen said she gives younger children guiding clues to find Waldo, such as "you're getting warmer" or "look up."
Rachel Nardone, a cashier at King's Subs and Pizza, said children are very invested in finding Waldo. According to Nardone, one boy came to King's dressed up from head to toe like Waldo.
"It's so much fun," she said. "Kids get very into it. We get all ages. Some need hints and some do it on their own."
Children who find Waldo at King's and at Campus Collection can also hide Waldo in a new hiding spot — a practice employees say is a lot of fun.
"I love interacting with the kids," said Olga Barros, Campus Collection manager. "They're just adorable."
"It gives them something to do," Barros added. "I think it's fun for them to explore downtown and a good activity for parents. It gives kids a way to stay occupied and get rid of some energy."
Raffle winners will be announced on July 28 at 2 p.m. at a "Where's Waldo" party at the Andover Bookstore at 74 Main St. According to Keefe, there will be games and "Where's Waldo" trivia at the party.
Follow Kelsey Bode on Twitter @Kelsey_Bode.