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Flossmoor Fest youth policy approved by board

The Flossmoor village board invites the community to a day of fun, games, entertainment and food Saturday for the 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Flossmoor Fest, with reassurances that the annual event will be family oriented and focus on the village’s diverse, connected community spirit.

At Tuesday’s board meeting, trustees approved a Youth Supervision Policy. Other changes to this year’s Flossmoor Fest include a smaller footprint, specific entrance points and reduced hours. 

“This will be a great afternoon and I think it will also help alleviate any concerns parents and festgoers have,” about a safe event, Mayor Michelle Nelson said. Flossmoor Fest follows the 4th annual Hidden Gem Half-Marathon race that starts at 7 a.m.

The board took action after various incidents caused problems at festivals in the Chicago area. A teen flash mob shut down a carnival in Tinley Park in May. A group of teens also tried to interrupt the Back to School movie night at Flossmoor Park hosted by District 161 on Aug 18. Flossmoor Police Chief Jerel Jones said it was a kids and family event, and his officers worked to move the group of teens out of the immediate area. He said the police department will be using “proactive security measures” at Flossmoor Fest.

The Youth Supervision Policy, borrowed from the village of Frankfort, spells out acts and language that will not be tolerated. It also prohibits youth from accessing restricted areas and from creating “an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.” The policy can be found on the village website.

The policy stipulates that kids and teens 17 and younger must be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for their actions. Supervising adults aged 21 and older will need to present a valid ID showing a photograph and date of birth, such as a driver’s license, when entering the festival area.

“They should be supervising the youth that they bring, and they’ll be responsible for them,” Flossmoor Village Manager Bridget Wachtel told trustees.

This year’s Flossmoor Fest will be restricted to an area around downtown Flossmoor. It will not bleed into Flossmoor Park east of the viaduct. There will be increased security and all attendees should expect a search of bags and individual wanding. No backpacks will be allowed, unless being used as a diaper bag.

Police will be increasing the use of security cameras.

Trustee Gary Daggett voted for the Youth Supervision Policy, saying it’s “a sign of the times on where we’re at. And we want to keep our events family friendly.”

Trustee George Lofton said, “A lot of these disruptions (at other events) were staged … It doesn’t take too many to do that. That’s my concern.” He and Trustee Brian Driscoll expected the restrictions at entrance points will reduce any threats of groups disrupting the event.

Entry points are: Sterling Avenue at Flossmoor Road; Central Drive near the Central Drive parking lot; and Sterling Avenue near the Flossmoor Public Library parking lot.

Trustee Rosalind Mustafa said the new policies may be questioned by some, and she recognized that staff will be asked to deliver “responses that take some tact and finesse.” 

“We want to feel safe and we want our residents to feel safe. I thank the staff for all the work they did to come up with a policy that will help us all,” she added. 

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