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City Renews Friday Night Live in Old Town

The initiative designed to engage teens in Library Park during the Friday Family Festival will be brought back next summer after city officials called the pilot program a success.

The City Council unanimously decided to renew the Friday Night Live initiative at last week after officials said the program proved effective in engaging teens who had previously caused trouble during the city's weekly street fair.

The city partnered with the in setting up activities for youths over the summer months during the Friday Family Festival, which had previously been a haven for teens who were "generally rude and just misbehaving," according to Lauren Vasquez, a redevlopment specialist with the city.

Vasquez said police calls for service in fell after the pilot program, which ran from June to August, was implemented.

"The program was effective in positively affecting the attitude of the youth in the park," Vasquez said.

The city paid a total of about $16,000 to implement the program last summer, and city staff recommended the budget for Friday Night Live be increased to about $22,000 next year.

The program, which provides , was embraced by teens in Old Town, Councilwoman Becky Shevlin said.

"It was really neat to see all the volunteers that came forth as well. What was so neat was the kids really felt … this was something specifically for them," Shevlin said.

Pam Fitzpatrick, owner of the Dollmakers' Kattywompus toy store in Old Town, also praised the program's effectiveness.

"We have had a growing problem with youth acting out sometimes being silly and sometimes being downright obnoxious," Fitzpatrick said. "It’s a very positive thing for the businesses in Old Town. It's not just a way to keep the youth busy but it’s a way to get them connected."

Frank "frazgo" Zgonc December 27, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Nice article, but you missed the part about how the YMCA came to the Monrovia Association of Fine Art to help with this project. MAFA Member Rouzanna Berberian took the lead on developing the art program for the Friday night event. Rouzanna deserves recognition and a round of applause for her dedication to these kids. She even took the time to show case their work at the Celebrate the Arts event in October in Library Park. They are good kids in need of some direction and she helps give it to them while providing a creative outlet.
Stephen McCarthy December 27, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Thanks Frank for setting the record straight. you took the words right out of my mouth!
Bill Beebe December 27, 2011 at 06:00 PM
I would like to also commend Rouzanna Berberian for her dedication to the teens who took advantage of the program. She has a way of connecting with the kind of youth some people simply and I might add wrongly call "troubled" or "troublesome". Some of these kids can certainly be a challenge but the YMCA program "Square One" meets the kids where they are and gives them activities that they would like to do. And it allows their creativity to shine. Kudos also to Ulises Gutierrez, the YMCA's community outreach coordinator and Susan Hirsch of Monrovia School’s Quest Academy for their leadership in this endeavor. Volunteers are needed to keep this activity going and i plan to go at least one night to lend my support. Please consider giving some of your time to this wonderful event. One last thing - I trust Friday Night Live will be held in the front of Library Park as it began last year. That area draws more of the kids and they feel they are a part of the downtown experience (not tucked away in the back of the park). The kids are energetic and they certainly don't "play" the same way we do, but they are great kids who just need some of us adults to reach out to them. Thank you City Council for your funding as well. You put your money where your mouth is, especially in your support of community based activities.
Donna Baker December 27, 2011 at 11:53 PM
I was one of the most vocal complainers about the rowdy kids running around the street fair on Friday nights. As a regular visitor to Old Town restaurants on Fridays, it was troubling to see so many kids hanging around in large groups and disrupting families and others who were trying to enjoy a night out. I remember how I had nowhere to go when I was their age, so I understood the need for them to have a gathering place, but the street fair wasn't the right conduit. When Ulises, Susan, The Y, and other volunteers decided to give the kids their own place to go on Friday nights, it provided a solution to satisfy everyone concerned. I was invited to a presentation after the summer program had finished, and I must say it was obvious how much the kids enjoyed their Friday nights in Library Park. They danced,, played music, created art, ate some great food, and just had a wonderful time with each other and with the adults who took part. I, for one, feel there is an ongoing need for a program like this, and I'm glad to see the City step up to keep it going. You can sign me up for a night with the kids!

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