Good morning, troops. It's Monday, Nov. 20.
Instead of looking forward to turkey and stuffing and family later this short Thanksgiving week, Nick in the Morning is trying to figure out why on earth the opening of bowling lanes and an arcade in a Peoria shopping mall resulted in a facility-clearing brawl.
The fight took place Saturday night at Northwoods Mall. Saturday was official opening day for Round1, a much-anticipated entertainment facility that is occupying part of the old Macy's space.
Journal Star reporter Aaron Ferguson took a deeper dive Sunday into what happened. It appears five teenagers beating on each other sparked the whole thing.
Wonderful. That's sarcasm, just in case you might be a bit slow on the uptake first thing on a Monday morning.
Round1, part of a national chain, is a textbook example of a great way to repurpose an empty retail facility. That should be the topic of discussion this day, not a few idiots trying to ruin things for everybody else.
Initial reports suggested there was gunfire at the mall, but that turned out not to be true. It's additional proof what first is heard on a police scanner usually is wrong.
Social media being what it is, sides already are being taken regarding who was at fault and what the implications are for Northwoods' future.
Some say this is the final straw, that they won't patronize Northwoods again, nor allow their children to do so.
"I feel for the stores losing sales. But what did they expect when opening a business that is a draw for low life thugs?" one Journal Star Facebook-page poster wrote.
Stated another: "Bunch of thugs raised by thugs that never had rules in their homes. Sounds exactly like the kind of place I want to take my wife and small children."
Nick in the Morning has heard these complaints about Northwoods before. We don't go to the mall, any mall, all that often, and never on Saturday nights, so we don't know how legitimate they are.
But regarding this incident, a lot of the griping sounds like excuse-making and an overreaction.
What happened Saturday night was pretty bad. But it's also possible Round1 and mall management were caught off guard, so to speak, regarding security. The guess here is that will change pretty quickly.
Note "thug" or "thugs" being used in the two quotations above. That word appeared in more than a few social-media comments.
"Thug" can be code for "African-American youth." Seems fitting, sadly, that in an age where Peoria is considered among the worst cities for black Americans, there's a racial aspect to all this.
Almost every major city has a bit of this mentality. That doesn't make it right.
That also doesn't let the fight perpetrators and their families off the hook, regardless of color. Too much idle time and not enough parental supervision are a bad combination.
The mall isn't a babysitter. And what happened Saturday is what happens when adults don't expect their kids to exhibit responsible behavior in public.
We see that far too often in modern society. But was such unruliness common when teens gathered on weekends in the past? When they cruised up and down Main Street, for example?
From this perspective, it seems all the finger-pointers might want to give this situation a little more thought.
Don't be afraid to go to Northwoods. Do become more active in your children's lives and hold them accountable for their actions.
And do give Round1 another chance. It looks like it has the potential to be a fun place.
More importantly, if Peoria can't have something as nice and as simple as a bowling arcade, this city and a lot of its residents might be past the point of no return.
We know that isn't true. Right?
The song heard on the way to work actually was heard Sunday, on the way to get something to eat, but it's too awful not to share.