Winston-Salem, NC-- While the city of Winston-Salem said Teen Nights are working, some business owners worry about teenagers turning off their clientele.
A few weeks ago, Winston-Salem had an issue with hundreds of teens causing a disturbance in downtown. Since then, the city implemented a program, "Teen Nights" held every Friday in the summer.
According to Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department Director, Tim Grant, teen nights are working. The attendance numbers are showing an increase each week. Also, the city said the feedback from teenagers and parents has been positive.
"Word is getting around. Teens seem to be enjoying the opportunity to come to a rec. center, where they're the only ones in there if you fit the age limit," Grant told News 2.
Teen Nights are held Fridays at three recreation centers in Winston-Salem. It's a free night for teenagers to play games, eat, dance, and hang out with one another. For the city, it's an alternative for teens who might be hanging on downtown streets.
Since the program started on June 22nd, 264 teenagers have attended Teen Nights, with increasing attendance every week. About 77% of the participants have been boys.
Although the city of Winston-Salem told News 2 that Teen Nights are working and the crowds have thinned in the downtown district, another perspective comes from a Winston-Salem business owner of 30 years.
Greg Carlyle is owner of the Millennium Center, a place for dinner, drinks, and large events. He told News 2 teenagers hanging out may seem harmless, but for his clientele, it's a turn off.
"We all are at risk of our businesses suffering. The perception of people hanging out in the downtown area is not a healthy one for business. We're down here to do business and to take care of our business clients, not serve as a place to hang out," said Carlyle.
To learn more about Winston-Salem Teen Nights, click here: Teen Crowds Grow In Winston-Salem, City Offers Alternative.
WFMY News 2, Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Department