Winston-Salem, NC-- Teenagers have been hanging out downtown Winston-Salem on Friday nights. The city has an alternative to get teens off the streets.
Business owners on Fourth St. in downtown Winston-Salem have their fingers crossed when the sun sets, especially on Friday nights.
That's because teenagers have been hanging out on Fourth St. downtown and not just by a handful. On June 8th, city officials estimated about 200 teens and young adults gathered in the street and a fight got out of control. On June 15th, the crowds reached almost 400 people.
Some businesses are concerned because the crowds are spilling through their doors. However, the city of Winston-Salem sees this as an opportunity while they work to keep downtown safe.
A Friday night in the summer is a recipe for danger for a number of reasons. For young teenagers, they're out of school, they can't yet drive, and the Hanes Mall in Winston-Salem kick teenagers out at 6pm if they're without a parent. This predicament leaves a lot of kids with a lot of time and nothing to do or nowhere to go. Perhaps that combination has contributed to the large crowds of teens seen downtown the past couple Fridays.
The city of Winston-Salem wants to steer teenagers somewhere else. That somewhere else is city recreational centers.
Tim Grant, Winston-Salem Recreation & Parks Director said, "Give them a location in their neighborhoods where they can kind of hang out, get away from mom and dad and still be supervised but kind of decide what they want to do."
This Friday is the second Friday the Rec centers are open for Teen Night. The city told News 2, last Friday was slow with only about 60 teens total between the three locations.
Teen Night is offered from 6-10pm every Friday until August 3rd at the following locations:
Fourteenth Street Rec Center, 2020 N.E. 14th St.
Martin Luther King Jr. Rec Center, 2001 Pittsburg Ave.
Polo Park Rec Center, 1850 Polo Rd.
Free food and drinks, video games, TV, sports, music, and entertainment are offered at the supervised Rec centers.
WFMY News 2