Hendrixson Bustamante had three people show up for his fourth birthday, the same number as did when he turned three. When he was two, he celebrated alone with his mother. On Monday, his luck changed when 50 people stopped by Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland to celebrate his fifth birthday.
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Why so many people? His mom, Emily Winslett, invited members of Portland's "Pokemon Go" Facebook group to the even. For many of those visitors, like Steven Burkeland, he wanted to be anywhere near a group of Pokemon fans. "I lived in Portland for two years and didn't make a single friend," he said. "Recently, I was recognized when I went out. It's weird."
This is what is happening all over the country thanks to the Facebook communities that have been popping up. When those groups promote an event, there is a lot of attendance.
Winslett got the idea because she saw the success of other events and realized that the people from the boy's daycare weren't going to be able to make it. Hendrixson was expelled by his daycare and she knew no one would make it there. Hendrixson is on the Autism spectrum.
Nobody RSVP'd to the party invites, so Winslett told her friend, Dee Berk, that she was worried. It was Berk who suggested creating an event on the page. She believed that some people would have a few moments to spare of their day to stop by.
By the time the birthday came, 142 people said they were interested in attending. Over 50 showed up.
It was Hendrixson's biggest birthday party, Winslett said. In fact, it also got him to interact with the other guests.
"Is this my kid right now?" Winslett was quoted as saying to Oregon Live. "Because this does not look like my kid right now."
"It's amazing how many people I've met today who know somebody on the spectrum," Winslett said. The party allowed her to connect with others who have autism and those who parent children who have autism.
"As much as it's his birthday, it's definitely still a Pokémon event," she said. The group ran toward the northern portion of the park after seeing a rare Pokemon.