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Outdoor movies too popular?

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013 | Posted by
Jesus Jimenez, left, Isabel Gonzalez Jimenez and Esmeralda Bustamante watch their children play together before the start of the Tuesday Night Movie on the Town Green in Windsor on July 30, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

Jesus Jimenez, left, Isabel Gonzalez Jimenez and Esmeralda Bustamante watch their children play together before the start of the Tuesday Night Movie on the Town Green in Windsor on July 30, 2013. (Alvin Jornada / For The Press Democrat)

By CAITLIN GRAVESON
TOWNS CORRESPONDENT

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.”

Groups of teenagers socialize around the Town Green fountain during the Tuesday Night Movie on the Town Green.

Groups of teenagers socialize around the Town Green fountain during the Tuesday Night Movie on the Town Green.

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.”

  • Carlo Marx

    You kids get off my lawn!

  • John

    What else are kids supposed to do these days? Stay in their rooms playing video games and or cruising the internet getting into who knows what online? Stay in home and loose the ability to engage each other socially, in person. Evidently people aren’t used to seeing kids out on the streets or hanging out in parks or on sidewalks anymore. I say good for the them. Let them enjoy the rest of their short summer before it’s over.

  • http://www.econetwork.net larry loebig

    Have they caused any problems? Seems to me Teenagers need things to do and safe supervised places to hang out.

    • Jayme

      Precisely. This entire article is about people feeling “intimidated” because teenagers may be using outdoor movies as “social gatherings”. Well, what the hell else is everyone else using it for??!! This is a strangely ageist article that doesn’t report actual news but the anxieties of families afraid of young people.

  • CJ

    Really? Seriously? It’s a nice, fun safe place for Windsor teens to hang out. They’re not drinking, they’re not doing drugs, and they’re staying out of trouble. They’re not going to try anything, there are too many people around. Seriously, stop being so concerned with “THE TEENAGERS AND THEIR SMART PHONES AND THE INTERWEBS, I’M SO CONCERNED! THINK OF TH CHILDREN!!!” Windsor has good teens and good people. Let them be. Much ado about nothing!

  • Chris H

    The tone of this article concerns me. Teens, probably more than any age group, need places to socialize with their peers. If there is unacceptable behavior going on as a result of the size of the crowds, do something about the behavior, but don’t label it as being a problem because of the kids.

    Focus on the behavior, not the age of the offenders.

  • Gala Zonis

    This is insane. So teens are intimidating because they are alive? This article is insulting and fear mongering.

  • Jayme

    OH NO TEENAGERS ARE GONIG TO THE MOVIES!

  • Jamie

    This article honestly upsets me. I’m a 17 year old girl who goes to movie nights on the Green quite often, we all stand in groups so we can talk and hangout. Remind me, what’s so bad about hanging out with friends at a family event? With almost nothing to do in Windsor, this is one of the only thing fellow teenagers can do in town. I admit, some teenagers aren’t exactly the best people, but MOST of us are good kids. Making assumptions that all teenagers are the same is a common thing I face each day. People need to understand that teenagers aren’t bad people. We’re just at the stage where we are trying to figure out who we are. I’m positive if you look at teenagers back from a couple decades ago, we are a much more well-behaved group. Stop being ignorant and realize that we could be MUCH MUCH worse.

  • Michelle P

    Mr. Verity considers teenagers gathering socially a “negative aspect.” Why isn’t it a good thing? An unspecified “incident” of gang violence. Security has been beefed up, and Mr. Verity himself says the teens are harmless. Two people quoted as saying: “Very intimidated,” “witnessed an incident.” Again, unspecified. Why do I get the feeling some of the people quoted in this article are equating brown skin with unsafe?

  • Tony

    seriously? this constant projection of suspicion and fear onto teenagers must stop! It makes the police over-react to them and it makes the teens suspicious and paranoid of all authority.

  • Joshua Simmons

    I am also concerned with the tone of this article. Teenagers need places to gather and things to do, and this article could have been constructive in framing the dialog for all concerned parties. Instead, it panders almost completely to the perspective of the concerned and doesn’t add much to the dialog.

  • Angela Graves

    I’ve thought for several years now that it would be nice if someone with money would open a drive-in or two here in Sonoma County. It’s been so long since we’ve had one. Those of us who remember going would love the nostalgia of it, and the younger people who’ve never been to one would flock to it for the novelty. Is there anyone out there interested?

  • wangofango

    “the size of the teenage crowd can be worrisome for families and businesses.” Oh, look, dear, all those rambunctious teen-agers. Why can’t they just skip from age 13 to 23 years old like we did. Imagine, teen-agers thinking they should be allowed to be seen in public. What is the world coming to? Let’s put ‘em to work hacking for the NSA and spying on their parents and neighbors. No more of this so-called
    “hanging out.” It’s nothing but teenagers gathered for a good time in their home town. The nerve. Some of them even carry skateboards. Can you believe it? And sometimes you can even hear them laughing. There oughta be a law…

  • wangofango

    “the size of the teenage crowd can be worrisome for families and businesses.” if you think the size of the teenagers is a problem, there are plenty of adults with much bigger size problems waddling around the Windsor Green.

  • Ron Lopez

    I think Michelle P. reveals an unspoken part of this so-called ‘problem': “Why do I get the feeling some of the people quoted in this article are equating brown skin with unsafe?” Sadly, this is at least partly about race (and racism), and the fact that this generation of parents (of which I am a part) is somehow fearful not only of teens but also LATINO TEENS. Guess what? Your sweet little kiddies, like mine, will soon be teens – and a significant number in their age group will be Latino (mine already are). Demand that your elected officials build more well-lighted parks and youth oriented facilities and be supportive of the young people you see. They need our support and patience and they need to be allowed to be young without being villified for it.

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James Lanaras is our Windsor correspondent.
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