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Where's Waldo? The guest of honor visited An Open Book

Photo by Rachelle Klemme An Open Book in Wadena was one of about 250 independent book stores to host a "Where's Waldo" 25th anniversary party July 31. From left, owner Gilette Kempf, Hanna Porter, Cory Bertram as "Waldo", Hailey Aagard as "Wenda" and Porter's dog, Bart, as "Woof".

After 25 years, he can be found in books, video games and the background of a 2012 Superbowl commercial. On Tuesday afternoon, "Waldo" made an appearance in Wadena.

An Open Book in downtown Wadena was one of about 250 independent bookstores to host a "Where's Waldo" party for the elusive character's 25th anniversary of publication. Kids around the area got to meet the storybook characters Waldo, Wenda and Woof at the bookstore and the downstairs of the Bernauer building.

Local businesses participated in the "Where's Waldo" hunt throughout July, and shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, kids showed up for the last hunt at the bookstore itself.

"It was a roar," An Open Book owner Gilette Kempf said.

Candlewick Press, the American publisher of the books, by British author and illustrator Martin Handford, sponsored and authorized Waldo parties in selected bookstores.

Kempf said stores had to apply and write an essay, and An Open Book was chosen.

About 20 kids and parents were entertained by Waldo, his female counterpart, Wenda, the dog, Woof, and Bookstore Manager Stacie Wolfenden.

"It was definitely to bring him back," Wolfenden said.

When they are not wearing yarn hats and candy cane colors, "Wenda" is bookstore employee Hailey Aagard and "Waldo" is her boyfriend, Cory Bertram. They are 2011 graduates of WDC High School and currently students at North Dakota State University.

"Woof" in real life is Bart, the dog owned by Aagard's friend, Hannah Porter, who also helped out with the festivities.

Waldo parties were also held in other area bookstores, including Park Rapids, Wolfenden said.