Unaccompanied teenagers won't be allowed at the Mall of America this season on the biggest shopping days of the year.
Despite retailers seeking to persuade more people to spend merrily, children younger than 16 who are not with an adult 21 or older will not be welcome at the Mall of America on Thanksgiving night or Black Friday -- or during the week between Christmas and New Year's.
Thanks in large part to a teenage-fueled, chair-throwing brawl that erupted at the mall's north food court last year on the day after Christmas, officials have decided it is better to be a little less welcoming than sorry. Thus the mall's parental-escort policy will be in effect on extra days during the holidays, said mall spokeswoman Bridget Jewell.
"We realized after last year that we had a large number of youths who were coming," she said. "Just for everyone's safety, it makes sense to us to put the policy in place."
The mall's normal policy is to restrict unaccompanied teenagers on Friday and Saturday evenings.
But, with some retailers starting to open their doors for the holiday shopping season this year as early as 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving -- as well as theaters and restaurants then, too -- Jewell said the decision was made to restrict access on additional days.
"We are trying to make it safe and enjoyable for everybody," she said.
Unaccompanied teens must provide proof of their age with government-issued identification. School IDs will not cut it.
A boisterous crowd of more than 200 young people fueled chaos last year after a fight involving a large group of teens spread through the mall. More than 10 juveniles and young adults were arrested.
Police called the melee the worst case of violence they had seen at the mall in more than 15 years. At first, some thought the brawl was organized through social media. Police later said they believed it sparked randomly.
James Walsh 612-673-7428