At 6 p.m. Friday, just a handful of teens were strolling around the busiest part of the Village at Sandhill in Northeast Richland.
Five of them walked briskly toward the movie theater. Two girls with shopping bags appeared headed for their car.
"I think the word is out," said Alan Kahn, developer of the massive shopping and dining plaza that instituted a youth accompaniment policy Friday night.
Youths 16 and younger are no longer allowed in the Village at Sandhill after 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights without an adult. That's three hours earlier than the previous policy permitted.
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The young people are allowed to go to the movie theater but must wait in specific areas before and after movies.
Kahn developed the policy to make shoppers who had complained of large crowds of loitering youths more comfortable.
With many teens at high school football games Friday night, Scott McCarthy, manager of the shopping center, said he was expecting a somewhat uneventful night - a trial run before today.
By 7 p.m., officers and security guards had asked 12 teenagers to leave; three were taken to a holding area and their parents were called; and six were directed to a new waiting area near Rita's Italian Ice for their parents to pick them up after their movie.
Chantielle and Jerry Thurman, who were shopping with their two young children in Kirklands Home store, were not aware of the policy. But they said it was needed.
"It gets pretty crowded with just young teenagers," Chantielle Thurman said.
"We don't want to stay a long time," her husband added.
He said he understands youths wanting a place to hang out. "I was young once," said Jerry Thurman, 30. "But it becomes a safety issue."
Debbie Bailey, who works at an assisted-living facility in Camden, was shopping at Sandhill with her husband and 11-year-old daughter Friday night. She said she had considered taking a group of senior citizens on a shopping trip there a few months ago.
"My director said, 'Too many kids hanging around over there,'" she said.
With this new policy, she said she might take them on that field trip yet. "That would make a difference," she said.
Shannon Scott and Dana Stevens, both 14, were unaware of the new policy shortly after 6 p.m. Friday as they walked past Nestle Toll House Cafe.
They were OK when the cutoff was 9 p.m. But they spent some time debating the 6 p.m. deadline.
Scott seemed hurt that older shoppers might feel threatened by a group of youths.
"They're scared of us?" she said.
But her friend understood.
"Kids do do stupid stuff like rob old grannys," Stevens said.
But still, she thinks it's unfair to penalize all teens.
"There are a lot of responsible teenagers," Scott said.
"I may not clean my room, but when I go out, we know how to take care of ourselves," Stevens added.
Kahn said he hopes the new policy will encourage families to visit the Village at Sandhill together for dinner, a movie or shopping.
He pointed to a family of four enjoying dinner in an outdoor area at Blue Fin.
"That's what we're looking for."