Outdoor movies too popular?
By CAITLIN GRAVESON
Every Tuesday during the summer, the Windsor Town Green turns into a movie theater.
Starry Movie Nights and sponsors like the Old Downtown Business Association and the Town of Windsor host the Summer Outdoor Movie series, playing a children’s movie in the park at dusk. In its seventh year, the event draws nearly 400 families each week.
Recently, the event also has become a hangout for teenagers. While families set up blankets and chairs on the lawn, groups of teenagers mingle on the sidewalk near McClelland Drive.
Bill Verity of Starry Movie Nights notes the size of the teenage crowd can be worrisome for families and businesses.
“Maybe the only negative aspect,” Verity says, “is that teenagers use the Tuesday Night Movie as a social gathering.”
Last year, estimates put the crowd of teenagers at 1,500.
Aseana Buckman brings her three children, ranging in age from 8 to 16, to the movies each week, but the unsupervised crowd of teenagers concerns her.
“It isn’t to the point where I won’t let my kids go off to Powell’s,” she said, “but I don’t want it to get to that point.”
Buckman added that for her family visiting from out of town, it was even more of an issue.
“They actually were very intimidated,” she said. “They didn’t like it and they left early, which I can’t blame them.”
For others, the crowd raises questions of safety. Pam Novak has younger children, ages 9 and 11, and the family witnessed an incident that was upsetting for everyone.
“Now, when they want to play by the back grass, I don’t trust that they will be safe,” Novak said.
Verity acknowledges there have been some growing pains, including an episode of gang violence, in the process of adjusting security for a larger crowd. However, Verity is confident that with added security, the concerns have been addressed.
“For the most part, that has been mitigated,” Verity said. “There is still quite a teenage crowd, but they are harmless.”
Ryanesha Warren of Sebastopol brought her 5- and 13-year-old kids to the movie for the first time, and though she noticed the crowd, she wasn’t worried.
“It is a family event, so you are going to run into it,” she stated.
Brad Barmore, owner of KIN and President of the Old Downtown Windsor Business Merchant’s Association, said the event is an opportunity for teenagers to do something together.
“I remember being in high school and you just wanted to do something that wasn’t in your house, so it is a good event for that,” Barmore explained.
Karen Spotleson has a 17-year-old daughter and echoed Barmore. “There is nothing for them to do,” Spotleson said. “It is a great place for them to go.”