DARIEN — When residents visit Palmer’s Market for groceries or the Darien Butcher Shop for their meat, they may spy a distinctive red and white striped shirt.

From July 1 to July 27, six-inch cardboard figures of Waldo his companion, Wenda and dog, Wolf, from “Where’s Waldo” fame will be hidden around local businesses for residents to find in hopes of winning a prize from Barrett Bookstore.

According to Brianna Schneider, children’s specialist at Barrett’s, the local scavenger hunt is part of a national campaign to help support local businesses. Children can go to Barrett to pick up a passport with the names of 25 local businesses where cutouts of Waldo and his friends are hidden. Once participants find the figures, they get a stamp on their passport and when they get all 25, they can bring their passport back to Barrett to be entered in a raffle for Waldo prizes.

“It’s great for us to get kids in,” Schneider said. “They’re so excited to do it. It’s also based around buying local, so it gets people out into the community often at a time where stores are quiet.”

Around 130 people participate in the contest each year, ranging from children as young as three-years-old who often play with their siblings to 12-year-olds. According to Schneider, the game has become a popular summer tradition, with people coming in as early as June to get their passport. The game concludes at the end of July with a grand prize drawing at the store.

More Information

Find Waldo

To get a passport, visit Barrett Bookstore at 314 Heights Rd, Darien, CT 06820. For more information on the scavenger hunt, visit www.barrettbookstore.com/

The campaign is part of a nationwide shop local initiative launched by Candlewick Press, the publisher of the Where's Waldo books, and the American Booksellers Association.

At SoNo Baking Company on Tokeneke Road, Waldo became so popular employees hide him throughout the store year round.

“It started because we were doing the bookstore "Where’s Waldo" and they gave us the little display,” said SoNo Baking Co. Manager Will Bechtel. “We forgot to stop hiding it. It’s not only the scavenger hunt where kids get excited. We have fun with it. There are a few kids who come in every week or so with their parents and if we haven't moved Waldo, they get very upset. It keeps us on our toes. When the contest comes around, it's just a pleasant experience.”

Schneider said having the figurines hidden in local shops gives participants an excuse to explore new stores which gives them a boost in business. SoNo Baking Co. has been participating in the contest since they opened three years ago.

“We really enjoy participating in it because it is a community event and it's something kids get excited about,” Bechtel said. “It is nice to see people come in during the event for the sake of the event.”

ekayata@hearstmediact.com; @erin_kayata