Originally published on Page A1 of the York Daily Record/Sunday News on Sunday, October 2, 2011.
By LAUREN BOYER
Daily Record/Sunday News
As the clock struck 6 p.m. Friday, York Galleria mall security guards, clad in white shirts and trooper hats, marched to the call of duty, manning their posts near Boscov’s and JC Penney – gateways to the forbidden land.
They checked IDs, turning some away like bouncers at a club, sending a clear message to unsupervised minors wandering the halls:
You’re not welcome here – from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, at least.
That’s when anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian older than 21 while shopping in the Springettsbury Township retail complex.
Two weeks ago, mall management announced the policy, designed to curb large groups of unsupervised youths congregating and misbehaving, their shenanigans peppered with foul language.
At 5 p.m. Friday, messages began playing from the mall’s loudspeaker, giving last-minute warning to youths shopping without chaperones.
Just before the witching hour, Madison Brandt, Sam Fessman, and Brandon Delp, all 17-year-old seniors at Red Lion Area High School, circled around a table, scarfing down their food court delicacies – burgers from McDonald’s and a Big Box Meal from Taco Bell.
“I completely forgot about (the policy) coming here, but it doesn’t concern me,” said Fessman, who had purchased a bottle of semi-permanent hair dye – Smurf-style – to touch up his fading locks.
“I change my colors frequently,” he said, pushing his bangs from his face.
Delp wanted a Freddy Krueger sweatshirt, but Hot Topic didn’t have one. The group decided to push their luck and ignore the Galleria’s policy.
“I’m their responsible adult,” joked Anthony Fasano, 18, also a Red Lion Area High School senior.
“It really scares me that our responsible adult is playing with a kids’ meal toy,” Fessman blurted back.
Among local teens, rumors were afloat this week of a possible “flash mob” or protest of the policy, he said, as the clock struck 5:55 p.m.
“As soon as it hits 6 p.m., I’m going to be like ‘look at us, breaking all the rules,'” he laughed.
For those caught breaking the rules, it was a different story.
“It’s the skinny jeans,” said Matt Neidlinger, 16, of Springettsbury Township. “Seriously, it’s all against the kids who wear tight pants.”
The Central York High School sophomore stood in his tight black slacks in the Galleria parking lot Friday plotting his next move. After security gave him the boot, he was all dressed up with nowhere to go and no ride to take him there.
In a similar conundrum, Tessa Yaukey, 16, didn’t know how to get in touch with her mother, who had dropped her off via motorcycle on the way to Bike Night in York.
At the mall, Yaukey planned to look for color contacts, a birthday present for a friend.
“If you’re 16, and you can drive, what’s the point of having your license if you can’t go to the mall?” she asked. “There’s nothing else to do in York.”
Shane Beck, 19, of Dover Township didn’t have his identification to show mall security and was asked to leave. His driver’s license is suspended, and a friend had dropped him off.
“They aren’t serving alcohol. No cigarettes,” he said. “I don’t understand. This is crazy.”
Security guards weren’t the only enforcement wandering the malls tiled corridors. At least four uniformed Springettsbury Township police officers were on site.
Lucinda Hartshorne, York Galleria general manager, wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the police presence, including how often the officers will patrol the mall.
She considered the policy a success as of 9 p.m. Friday.
“We’re noticing more families. It’s amazing. We’re quite pleased with the immediate response with the customers who want to come and shop,” she said. “We definitely had less youth here this evening.”
That might be true, said Joyce Keller, 66, of York Township, adding that people-watching at the mall may never be the same. She and her husband, she said, enjoy seeing “the way the kids dress. It’s a different generation.”
“I just think this is overkill,” she said. “Are they fighting terrorists or discouraging teenagers?”
The policy is in effect for the entire mall, except for the department stores, including Boscov’s, Sears and JC Penney and Bon-Ton. These stores will follow their own policy.
- Mall management will make a general announcement periodically beginning at 5 p.m. every Friday and Saturday to give unsupervised teens time to find a parent or guardian or depart the mall.
- Appropriate youth escorts include legal guardian or other parental figures, like aunts and uncles.
- Individuals in violation of the policy who decline to leave the property when requested can be prosecuted for trespassing.
- The policy applies to the parking lot and walkways and corridors leading to the mall.
- The Galleria will issue special identification to teens employed at the mall.