Mayor's 'Club KC' a hot ticket this summer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The hottest ticket on a Friday night for Kansas City teens is actually free. Hundreds of kids lined up to get into the Brush Creek Community Center for "Club KC," which is part of the Mayor's Nights summer program.

"We dance, we party," 16-year-old Jazmine Cooper said. "It's fun!"

The doors opened at 8 p.m. for the event monitored by Kansas City police officers and bouncers.

"If we didn't have the Brush Creek Community Center or Club KC, we would probably be at the Plaza or be at home bored or either having house parties," 14-year-old Sharee Martin said.

It took a shooting on the Country Club Plaza in August 2011 to get a teen summer curfew started. Mayor Sly James was nearby as bullets flew, and that led to the 9 p.m. curfew at five of the city's entertainment districts.

"They put in the curfew, and they also realized that when you have a curfew, we also have to find something for them positive, safe and structured for them to do," Club KC organizer Jeff Atkins said.

Next month, the city council will consider expanding the 18-and-under curfew, and making it year-round. Atkins said if that happens, programs like Club KC need to grow, too.

Atkins said the city is spending $400,000 this year for the Mayor's Nights events, but he believes they are valuable.

"Yes, it's costly, but you're saving so many lives, affecting so many lives in a positive manner," Atkins said.

Club KC is just one of 24 free events in a 12-week period. Dances, soccer, volleyball and basketball games are hosted at five sites through August. Atkins said 7,500 kids participated last year, when the program first started.

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