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Where's Waldo? Right Before Your Eyes

Turning 25 this year is the iconic nerd present at every gathering everywhere, sort of like Forrest Gump in a striped tee. In fact, he looks a little like Tom Hanks…

just off the Plaza is spearheading a city-wide contest this month that turns a two-dimensional hide-and-seek book into a three-dimensional scavenger hunt all over Sonoma.

That would be Waldo, of course, the little bespectacled guy in the red-and-white rugby shirt who first saw print in 1987 in a book series by British illustrator Martin Handford called -- you guessed it -- "Where's Wally?"

Wally? The title became Where's Waldo in the U.S., for reasons that are not quite clear. You might find the answer in the international Waldo Wiki.

Although there has not yet been a movie about Waldo, or Wally (unless you want to count Forrest Gump, whose main character has certain Waldo-like characteristics), one of the core books in the series is Where's Waldo? In Hollywood.

First stop is to drop into Readers to pick up a sheet listing all the locations where Waldo is hiding, 20 in all. You'll even find Waldo in the bookstore, if you look hard enough. (Hint: he's right out in the open; all you need to do is look.)

Some of the stores that are harboring Waldo include , , , and . The complete list is available only at .

Once you find Waldo in at least 8 different locations, you can get a free Waldo button. Sixteen out of 20, you can be entered in a drawing for a 6-book deluxe set of the Waldo books, and other great prizes.

"We actually had a bunch of kids come in the store today with 16 (out of 20 possible) finds," said store manager Jude Sales. "So they are now entered to win many Waldo prizes at the party (cookies, lemonade and Waldo) scheduled for 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 31."

Sales estimates that as of July 10, there are 8 to 10 contestants who have made at least 16 Waldo-spottings. She also notes that all the Waldo books are on sale at the store, little hardbacks for $5.99 and big paperbacks for only $7.99. You'd have to hunt far and wide to find such a deal.

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