What is the most important thing in the world for a young child? Discovery, which is why "Who is hiding Waldo" is the most successful international children's program in the country. In Millbrook 25 local businesses have enrolled in the treasure hunt for the whole month of July. The search is on; children and local businesses are thrilled to stamp a child's passport booklet for participation. Similar hunts are going on in Millerton and Rhinebeck.
The concept of Where's Waldo? derives from a series of children's books created by the English illustrator Martin Handford. Young readers are challenged to find a character named Wally hidden in the group. Wally's distinctive red-and-white-striped shirt, bobble hat, and glasses make him slightly easier to identify, but many illustrations contain red herrings involving deceptive use of red-and-white striped objects. (A "red herring" was a satiric phrase invented by novelist and playwright Thomas Nashe in the 16th century to identify something that doesn't exist. Nashe was hunted by the London secret police for his satiric writings, but was not discovered until he died.) The books have inspired a TV show, comic strip, and a series of video games.
On Thursday 2 April 2009, 1,052 students, alumni, and members of the community at Rutgers University garnered the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people dressed as Wally. The event raised money for local schools.
Children search to find Waldo. A reliable rumor has Waldo's dog hiding in the Merritt Bookstore. Can your child find the dog? Instagram offers a prize for the most interestingly colored picture of Waldo. Merritt Bookstore has a pile of passport giveaways for your child to participate in the town-wide hunt. The project is sponsored by Handford's publisher, Candlewick Press. At the moment there are seven Waldo books in about 30 languages. Most books in the series are activity books for children. The accompanying coloring book is on sale at Merritt Bookstore for $12.00.