Greensboro, NC -- Last summer, teenagers hanging out on city streets caused persistent problems for business owners and police.
On July 4th last year, police used tear gas to disperse a crowd of 1,000 teenagers who were hanging out in Center City Park.
Read here: Answers Differ On Curbing Teen Crowds In Downtown
Greensboro does not have a curfew for teenagers. Instead, this year, they're trying something different. It's a new initiative called Summer Night Lights.
Jenny Caviness works for the Youth & Volunteer Services division within the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department. Caviness told WFMY News 2 that the program was based on a very successful plan used in California and parts of Florida.
Click here for the Greensboro 2013 SNL calendar.
WFMY News 2's Liz Crawford met with Michelle Gill-Moffat, the city's Coordinator of Youth Initiatives, as well as Officer Campbell with the Greensboro Police Department.
Gill-Moffat said SNL will provide a safe and structured environment for teenagers. She admits that teenagers are going to hang out downtown, so they're making it easy for teens to participate. Four of the summer events will take place downtown including two movie nights, a Teen Festival Night and Jam Fest.
"So if they're going to be down there, we want to give them something to do that's constructive, that keeps them away from the bars downtown and kind of contained," said Gill-Moffat.
Officer Campbell explained that the police department will have a heavy hand in SNL. Last year, teenagers loitering in large groups were a problem. This year, police hope it will be different.
"Hundreds of them would come downtown and clump together, and they'd fight each other. So you know, we don't want the kids getting hurt and disrupting things for everybody else."
SNL is funded through the city with some additional grants from sponsors.
The first SNL event is this Friday at the Greensboro Sportsplex from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. Teenagers won't be allowed in after 9:30 p.m.
WFMY News 2