When Karon Reese checked her email Monday morning, she assumed the photo she saw was just a clever fake. Who would put up a statue of a Pokemon character? And how would they erect it in Coliseum Square without anyone noticing?
A short while later, however, Reese saw it for herself: a 5-foot-tall Pikachu standing defiantly on a pedestal in a dry fountain in the Lower Garden District park, with the Twitter hashtag #POKEMONUMENT on its base.
"It's almost Banksy-esque, some quiet person delivering quote-unquote art in the middle of the night," said Reese, referring to the anonymous graffiti artist whose work has gained international fame.
You’ve probably seen them already.
The statue, apparently erected sometime Sunday, has caught the attention of New Orleanians and "Pokemon Go" fans across the country, both for its very existence and for the mystery surrounding it.
No one has taken credit for the intricate statue, which apparently is hollow and made of fiberglass or a similar material made up to look like aged bronze. No one spotted the artists setting it up, or at least no one has said they did.
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Pokemon has been around in various forms since the 1990s and has seen a resurgence in the past month thanks to the release of "Pokemon Go." That smartphone app uses a technology called "augmented reality" to populate the world — as seen through a phone camera — with virtual creatures that can be captured and then pitted against those of other players.
Pikachu, the one now depicted in Coliseum Square, is the best known of the creatures in the game.
The statue sits in one of three fountains in the city-owned park that were shut down decades ago because of budget cuts.
Reese, a member of the Coliseum Square Association, said reaction within the group has been mixed, though she said she personally doesn't mind if the statue stays up, at least for a little while.
"I never think it's a bad thing to get people out into the park," she said. "Parks are gathering places. They're the places where we find community and fellowship."
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office did not respond to questions about whether there are plans to remove the statue.