It’s no secret that for years Ward Parkway Shopping Center has had an on-again, off again problem with urban teens hanging around its movie theaters. Much like Cinemark’s Palace on the Plaza today and Crown Center and Cinemark in Merriam in the not too distant past.
For now however, the coast is clear at Ward Parkway
That according to nearby neighbor Jeff Glazer.
“The movie theater’s been improved – they cleaned it up – and you just don’t see any of that anymore,” Glazer says. “Not at all – zero – they completely got rid of the entire issue. I would say the last two years it’s just completely disappeared.”
That’s a lot bit for a dude who four years ago felt like he was in a race war.
“My home was vandalized a little over a year ago,” Glazer told me at the time. “The black kids congregate there at Ward Parkway after the movies – about 500 to 600 deep – and our neighborhood association complained and they put in a police officer there afterwards.”
Unlike Cinemark on the Plaza, that seemed to do the trick, Glazer says.
Because before the post movie action at night had been intense.
“The catch is there’s a bus stop for the kids to get back to the inner city on the corner of like Wornall and 85th Street,” Glazer told me. “So my block is a shortcut to there.
“It’s scary, around 11:30 p.m. or midnight there were groups of kids walking by. One time my fiancé came out to see why the dog was barking and five or six kids were swinging on our basketball goal. And she said, ‘Hey guys, don’t do that’ and one kid pulled his shirt up over his face and came up to the door and started mimicking her and mocking her with threatening gestures.’
“I came home one night from work and they just pelted my house with rocks. They busted out five, maybe six of my windows – and knocked over my basketball goal.”
— For one thing, movie ticket prices for age 13 and up are substantially less – more than 70 percent less and nearly $5 cheaper per ticket – at Cinemark on the Plaza than AMC at Ward Parkway.
— And when Ward Parkway locks it’s doors at night there’s pretty much nowhere to run and nothing to see or do, unlike the Plaza.
The latest: Earlier this month Ward Parkway dropped the hammer on mall walkers.
They’re no longer allowed to galavant about the promenade before 8 a.m.
The new rules seem to suggest as well that the largely seniors crowd park their cars way over in the Leawood lot west of State Line. The idea being that prime parking by the mall on the Missouri side should be reserved for paying customers rather than tenants and over-the-hill gym rats.
Sneaky seniors who slip into the common area before 8 a.m. – say by cutting though Starbucks which opens at 5:30 a.m. – will be ordered outside to wait in their cars until after 8 a.m.
“I don’t get it,” says Ward Parkway habitué Jeff Magaliff.
Google mall walkers and you’ll find all sorts of stories about how businesses love them because they turn into shoppers after their workouts. However on more careful examination, it turns out they can be major pain in the butt as well.
A gent who goes by sickler labeled them just that on a sports betting website:
“You know the ones, non-shoppers in there for the exercise, too cheap to spring for a gym membership. Their numbers increase tenfold during the winter and unbearably humid summer days. Good way for the cheapos to stay/get fit without battling the elements.
“I was clipped on the arm by one today. Exited a store and was greeted by the forceful hand of not just an ordinary walker but a POWER walker! She apologized for the body contact then continued on her merry way, moving almost as fast as your typical jogger, arms swinging to and fro like a marching soldier.”
And a New York Times story noted that store owners don’t like early bird mall walkers because they wrap up their routines before most of the stores are even open.
Believe it or not, a Chicago Tribune story about a mall that told its walkers to take a hike, resulted in, “a fury that traveled all the way to Kansas, where the mall’s corporate office phones rang constantly with what the manager called ‘senior citizen threats.’ ”
Got that, senior citizen threats?
“The walkers say mall owners are using liability as an excuse to close the mall to before-business-hours walkers, some of whom have exercised there for 20 years,” the story reads. “Mall owners said rising insurance premiums were one factor but acknowledged that liability isn’t the whole story.
“The seniors track in snow and dirt, take up the best parking places and routinely ask mall management for coupons, T-shirts and gifts…and they don’t spend enough.”
I dunno, but if Ward Parkway’s worried about seniors tracking in snow and dirt now, wait till they hoof it all the way in from that parking lot in Leawood where the boy band Hanson held a concert several years back.
And say what you will about tight-fisted blue hairs, if you’re gonna have attendance problems at a mall, seniors are undoubtedly the way to go. Because if nothing else, the chances of them tearing down Glazer’s basketball goal or stoning his home-sweet-home have got to be pretty darn slim.
No matter how testy they may get…