NEW ORLEANS -- Celebration in the Oaks has become a hot spot for area teens, according to City Park leaders, and because of the big crowds of them, anyone under age 18 will have to have an adult over 21 present to enter the event.
City Park C.E.O. Bob Becker said hundreds of metro-area teenagers packed the event on its second weekend of 2012.
“There's a very large group of kids who are just there to hang out in essence. They're not there to see the lights. They're not there to ride the rides. They're just there as something to do,” Becker said.
The large crowds of unsupervised teens are disrupting the family nature of the event, according to Becker.
“We've had incidences where they'll call out fire or they'll call out gun and everybody will run,” he said.
City Park officials said it was so crowded here last Saturday that pathways were hard to get down.
Now, teens will be required to be with an adult over age 21 to get in the gate. It’s a change from years past, when anyone could enter.
“It's been like that for years. There's never any events nowadays for people that are young that we can do. You wonder why people are running around the streets getting in trouble and stuff. There's nothing for us to do anymore,” said 16-year-old Marisa Prince, who strolled through Christmas in the Oaks during the day on Wednesday.
She was with her grandparents, in town from Mobile, and her two older sisters, Elise, 20, and Alissa, 23.
“I feel like the problem could be handled just like anyone else that's causing a problem can be taken out of the park,” Alissa said.
It's a similar policy to the one started by Clearview Mall in 2008.
“We've spent 25 years building the event into a family Christmas holiday celebration for people and that's what we want the event to remain,” Becker said.
The new policy starts Friday, December 7. Employees said they will be checking ID's at the gate.