Saturday, January 10, 2009

Don't we all just LOVE Chuck E. Cheese?

Taken from

Jan 10, 2009
During the past three years, Fairlawn police have been called to the Chuck E. Cheese's on West Market Street 49 times.
That's more calls than any other stand-alone business in the city — including bars.
Only Summit Mall, a 120-store behemoth, produces more police reports.
Apparently, this is not particularly unusual. The Chuckster seems to be developing a national reputation for disorderly conduct.
If you haven't parented young kids during the past couple of decades, Chuck E. Cheese's is a nationwide chain of human anthills that are half-gaming parlor, half-pizza parlor, designed specifically for children. Well, except for the beer and wine.
I always thought the availability of alcohol was a well-conceived bribe to win over parents who normally would not be amenable to spending a couple of hours in a place where the noise level approximates that of the Blue Angels' afterburners.
Over the years, I have occasionally screwed up my courage and ventured into the never-ending whirl of yelling, running, screaming, jumping, falling, leaping and crashing. I am always struck not only by the incongruity between fuzzy robotic cartoon animals and free-flowing Budweiser, but also by the big age range among the kids.
Obviously, a big age range creates big size differences. And when large kids and small kids are mingling in an atmosphere of perpetual chaos — crawling through mazes and diving into small plastic balls — things can get a bit dicey.
Mix in a wide cross section of adults — including the type who never use their turn signals and wouldn't hold the door for somebody without a court order — and perhaps it's no wonder things can get a bit messy. Or more.
Major blow-ups According to the Wall Street Journal, law-enforcement officials across the country say Chuck E. has played host to a remarkable number of arguments and fights, mostly involving adults.
At some locations, the confrontations have been so heated that maybe Chuck E. — a smiling mouse who wears a ball cap — ought to vacate in favor of the Chucky in the horror movies. In Brookfield, Wis., last year, seven cops were needed to break up a melee involving 40 people who were knocking over chairs and screaming at each other right in front of the stage where a singing chicken and a guitar-playing hound dog deliver their merry tunes.That was only one of 12 fights there that required police action. Whack-a-Mole, indeed.
In Toledo, four mothers were arrested after a brawl that followed an argument about the length of time someone's daughters were hanging out at a drawing machine. Ten people squared off. In the featured bout, one loving mother was using the entrance rope as makeshift nunchucks, swinging the metal hook at another of the loving mothers. What's next, beer pong in convents?
''A lot of it is perceived actions against children, or somebody bumps into somebody and it becomes verbal,'' Fairlawn Police Chief Kenneth Walsh says. ''And a lot of it . . . is the 'Mother Bear' feeling. They're protecting their children. There's a dispute over [game] tokens or somebody thinks another customer is using a machine too long, and it becomes argumentative.'' Walsh says none of his 49 disturbances ended in an arrest. Often, he says, at least one of the squabbling parties has departed by the time officers arrive.
Jackson is mellower In contrast to Fairlawn's track record, Chuck E.'s joint on The Strip in Jackson Township seems downright sedate.Jackson Township Police Chief Harley Neftzer says that last year, his department was called to only four incidents that merited a report: two thefts, a fire and a shoving match in the parking lot. ''I don't have any grandkids yet,'' Neftzer says, ''but I wouldn't be hesitant about sending anybody at all to our particular location.''
The Chuck E.'s are owned by a Texas company, CEC Entertainment, which runs more than 525 of them, 19 in Ohio and three near Akron. The third is in Parma, near Parmatown Mall. A spokesman for the Parma Police Department says their Chuck's doesn't have a reputation for brawling, but that things have not always been dreamy.
''For a while, they were hiring our officers to work in there because of incidents of theft and things of that nature,'' Detective Marty Compton says. ''You know, a parent gets up to go play with their kid and all of a sudden somebody walks out with a purse.''
Liquid courage?
Although mixing toddlers and booze might sound dissonant, authorities say alcohol usually is not a factor in the flare-ups. Nationally, only a few Chuck E.'s have discontinued liquor sales. Beer and wine are still available in this area, including Jackson Township, where Chuck has been leading a mellow life.
Lindsey Phillabaum, a manager there, attributes the lack of arguments to her particular clientele. She also says employees try to swoop down on any conflicts before they escalate.
In Fairlawn, says General Manager Jamie Rohrer, the problem is not so much the type of people but their number. ''It's just because it's crowded,'' she says. ''People just get irritated. When it comes to people's kids, they just get off the edge.'' Her palace of overstimulation has taken to hiring off-duty sheriff's deputies on winter weekends, which are the biggest period of the year both for crowds and disagreements.
But keep in mind that, even in Fairlawn, you're not exactly taking your life in your hands. Conflicts are relatively rare, and often a good time can be had by all.
Even adults (not mentioning any names) have been known to revel in some of the games of skill. As corporate spokeswoman Brenda Holloway points out, ''We served approximately 75 million people in 2008, and the occurrences are actually very rare.'' Still, whether Chuck E. Cheese's is consistently ''a magical place for families,'' as its telephone greeting insists, is open to debate.

I was holding my breath until I got to the part that MY local CECwas the good one.. Not that we go there that often but at least when we do the chance of my getting into a rumble with some spastic mother hen is on the low end..... Personally I have always wondered WHY an establishment that is for the entertainment of young children sold alcohol. Sure many people need to numb out the loud annoying noises.. But doesn't this just encourage drinking and driving? And since I DOUBT that every child leaving there (with their handfuls of balloons, cotton candy and cheap toys) is properly buckled into a child safety seat... we are very lucky to NOT hear of more accidents on the strip/portage/Everhard roads...

Then there are the issues of cleanliness, germs and it being a pedophiles paradise.... Thanks anyway.. We will just avoid it as much as possible!


Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. I go to CEC as little as humanly possible, mostly for the reasons you mentioned in your last paragraph. AND I always thought the Fairlawn/Montrose area was very frou-frou. This gives me a whole new reason not to go there.

On a side note, how does a 7-1/2 foot singing rat not scare the hell out of small children anyway?

Triplethefunplus2 said...

If any of my friends decide to have a kids b-day party at CEC, skip us, M'kay? lol We'll send you a nice card and gc in the mail. I won't be stepping inside that germpit for nuthin'! Been there twice in my entire parental life and that's more than enough for me. Ick! But glad to know that our CEC is "safe."

You are so right in the thought process of D&D, makes you go, Hmmmmm...