One of the big changes at the 2017 Lilac Festival involves a new age restriction imposed by festival organizers.
Kids 16 and under are now required to be accompanied by an adult. Organizers say this is part of an effort to curb fights that have broken out in recent years.
With the new parental escort policy any child 16 and under will be denied entrance unless they are accompanied by an adult, legal guardian or a responsible adult 21 years of age or older.
Festival attendees and vendors have mixed opinions about the new policy.
Some say this is all good news and it will help them feel more at ease.
“I feel safer, that’s why am here,” said festival-goer Joanna Gruttadauria. “I wasn’t even going to come out this year because I heard about all the violence and the fighting.
“I think not only is it good for business, it’s good for customers and people that are coming,” said vendor, Elena Epping.” We’ve seen a lot of fights, a lot of running around, a lot of destruction, just running through their path a lot of unsupervised kids — younger and older — so this is a really good thing for us.”
But not everyone thinks this is the right solution.
“I think it’s too much,” said Jeanne Simpson. “I think that children need to learn how to be responsible. I think they need to learn for themselves how to be safe. And it’s part of growth — you have to trust them and trust that they will make the right decision.”
Director of Parks Larry Staub says this is not meant to be a punishment, but a way to bring families together.
“This festival is all about community, all about family, and all about people having fun together,” said Staub. “We don’t need the distraction so when youth are together with their families they tend to behave better.”
Staub hopes this will be the change that the Lilac Festival needs and so do many others.