Downtown street party aimed to give youth a place to go on Saturday nights

The city is looking at ways to keep kids safe and give them places to go.
Published: Jul. 8, 2023 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The city is looking at ways to keep kids safe and give them places to go.

This all comes after a shooting on Washington Avenue two weeks ago, which killed one teen and injured nearly a dozen others.

A street party was held Saturday night downtown from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. as a place for kids to go.

Ron Johnson with the Downtown City Improvement District says the street party is a way to give kids something organized and safe to do.

“I think it shows them that they have value and that we believe in them and that we’re their partner in their success,” Johnson says. “I think it’s vitally important.”

Johnson says safety is a top priority and it’s a gun-free zone. Everyone who goes to the party gets checked by security before getting past the barricade.

The first hour of the event was quiet, but by eight Saturday night, more than two dozen people came to enjoy.

“There’s so much violence and young people getting killed and shot and everybody needs to come together as a unity and get the young people off the streets,” Yvonne Cummings says.

Downtown St. Louis resident Corey Hibbler brought his son and nephew.

“Our kids need to be kids,” Hibbler says.

Hibbler says it shows parents that the city cares about kids.

“Play in a good environment and good neighborhoods so this is good for the community and the kids,” Hibbler says.

Kyanna White brought her godkids and nephews, sending a message to the community that everyone needs to work together.

“It’s kids coming together and getting along to stop all the violence and the fighting,” White says.

White’s goddaughter Sariyah is encouraging others to do the same and come to future events.

“We should stop the violence,” Sariyah says. “We all should work together.”

Johnson says it also gives them an opportunity to talk to kids about what else they would like to see offered.

The goal is to make this a weekly event on Saturdays.

“If you have it one Saturday and you don’t have it for three or four weeks, you end up in the same space,” Johnson says. “We’re trying to show consistency in what we do and our youth have said we’ve thrown events in the past and then it just stopped.”

Johnson is also encouraging parents to make sure they know where their kids are going and that they’re getting home or to a safe space at a decent time.