Where’s Waldo in the ATH? 2017

August 1, 2017 Avid Bookshop hosted the celebration for their 6th annual WHERE’S WALDO IN THE ATH? search. If you don’t already know what this is, saddle up. It is not only one of Athens’ most competitive gauntlets of striped-themed activity, it is yet another happening Athens can boast of that few other cities can. At its heart is Avid Bookshop and, of course, Rachel Watkins — Avid’s loved and lovely Communications Director — making sure everything runs smoothly as usual. An inalienable value of Avid’s has always been supporting the Athens community, whether that be through hosting super fun events for customers or showing love to local businesses. The annual Where’s Waldo event does both of these in a fun and inventive way.

Here’s how it works: you grab a “passport” at Avid Bookshop at Five Points. That passport lists all the local businesses where a Waldo cut-out is hidden. After that, the fun begins. Each time you find a Waldo, you are given a stamp or a signature on your passport. Once you find enough Waldos, you are entered into a raffle to win some big prizes. The best thing about these prizes? Each and every one is contributed to the Waldo cause by a local Athens business. From gift cards to Heirloom Cafe (an adorable spot that continues to re-invent dishes with American heritage), to a Rook & Pawn scarf (a board game cafe known only to those who enjoy having fun), to wooden Waldo necklaces and bicycle bells — the range and downright (dare I say it) quirkiness of the prizes offered this year was the perfect frosting on a local-business-love cake.

All sorts of people came through Avid’s doors during the previous month, dead-set on finding a Waldo (or even a Wenda). There was the boy that was doing a self-proclaimed “Waldo speed-run” who came sprinting into our five points location, found Waldo, and bounced on the balls of his feet while I signed his passport before dashing back out. Obviously he was a Waldo veteran. There were also those who came into Avid looking for a book and left delighted — with a book and the first stamp on their Waldo passport. All sorts enjoyed the excitement that Waldo brought to July.

Quinn Pendley, the first person to find Waldo at all twenty-five local businesses in 2017, has been doing the “Waldo hunt” for so long, that he doesn’t remember where or even when he first heard of it. Faced with having his tonsils out the beginning of July, he worked with his parents to find each and every Waldo on the first day that the search began. He preferred not to share his super-effective strategy for finding all twenty-five with me.(Understandable. I’d be reluctant to share my secret to ultimate success as well.) Angie, Quinn’s mother, commented on how Quinn’s summer plans affected their Waldo search, and how the search affected them as a family.

“…we knew making Waldo a big thing…would turn this summer from a downer into something glorious. It is no longer, ‘the summer Quinn was so sick’ now it’s ‘the summer Quinn won the Waldo search.’ We are so lucky to have such an amazing place like Avid in our community!”

It is events like these that truly continue to make Athens what it is — a tightly knit community of people that value local businesses because their local businesses are worth valuing. I feel privileged to work at a place that I would gladly come to everyday for free, and to be around those who regularly have innovative, community-building ideas and have the determination to bring those ideas to fruition.