As a culture intern, I find myself immersed in cheese and cheese news. Week after week I search for interesting cheese-related events to report on. And every week, without fail, I sigh and pass over a familiar headline. It differs week to week of course, but it’s always there. Something always goes down in a Chuck E. Cheese.
The place “where a kid can be a kid” now appears to be competing with itself for the worst headline for a family restaurant. Arrests, overwhelming patrons—whatever you could think of happening at a dive bar—appear as headlines every few days. Back in February a video appeared of a crowd of adults all shoving, pushing, and kicking each other in a giant mosh pit. No one suffered serious booboos, but it was disruptive to several birthday parties. The first week of March, an even bigger fight broke out amongst a reported 50 people. Two people were arrested, one man for public intoxication and a woman for instigating the fight.
Because it needed to get worse, just a couple weeks ago a 13-year-old boy was arrested after calling a bomb threat at a Pennsylvania Chuck E. Cheese. As you’d expect, this was taken very seriously, leading several buildings to be evacuated while bomb-detection dogs searched the area. The boy is being charged with one account of terroristic threats.
Give that a moment to reflect and think, “What the heck?”
I remember Chuck E. Cheese. I remember the fun games and the bad pizza. I remember the revelry that ensued there after my little league baseball season. It was a place that took a lazy, grungy interior and somehow filled it with enough childhood wonder to hide that grunge. But it was never incredible. More often than not, it was the butt of a joke than a suggestion for Friday night festivities. What’s next for the fun birthday centered businesses? Should we expect gunfights at Medieval Times? Violent pie throwing at the circus? Is nothing sacred?
Sadly, we can only hope that parents simply step up their game. In a perfect world, Chuck E. Cheese would add an adult only ball pit so they could have their time outs. But sometimes we just need to hope the kids teach their parents some manners.