Opinion: The Mundane Life of McCandless

When it comes to a night out with friends, the combination of inflation and early closing hours has caused the once bustling McCandless to become dull.


Brady Crow

Rave Cinemas was once a lively hang out spot for teenagers. Now, it’s nothing more than an eyesore.

Brady Crow, Staff Writer

It seems nowadays that parents are all saying the same things to their kids. “Get off that phone and go do something.” “Stop just lying around.” “Aren’t you going to do anything today?” 

The truth is, most of us would in fact do more if there was actually much to do.

McCandless is a good town to grow up in.  It’s a safe area, not too big or too small.  It has a nationally recognized public school system and a variety of shopping and dining options. 

That said, it still feels as if there’s a lack of fun activities to do. Ever since the pandemic, retail and entertainment have taken a hit.  But, with the worst behind us, it feels as if our local sources of fun haven’t rebounded.

The days of 24-hour stores and restaurants are largely in the past.  Instead, most establishments close around 9:00pm.  For those out for a fun night with friends or family, finding anywhere to go relatively late at night is practically impossible.  Even large shopping complexes like McCandless Crossing, The Block, and Ross Park Mall close around 9:00, far earlier than when high school shoppers would want to head home on a weekend.  

In addition, the cost of having fun has skyrocketed.  Inflation is a national issue, not specific to the town of McCandless.  However, McCandless suffers from increased prices especially.  Because there are very few public areas to visit for free, most forms of entertainment in the area come with some monetary setback.  Finding a good meal for under $15 is a challenge nowadays. Even fast food restaurants with a reputation for affordable meals can leave a nasty dent in wallets.  

How about a night at the movies?  Surely some cheap fun can be had there.  Wrong.  One movie ticket, popcorn, and a slushy can cost almost $30, and that doesn’t take into account the price of gasoline to get there and return home.  Going to a dinner and movie with a friend group or date could conceivably exceed $100 for just a few hours of leisure. 

New stores, residences, restaurants, and more are continually being built throughout the community.  Nonetheless, there is an acute lack of activities and places where high schoolers can enjoy a night out with friends.

There are also not many places in our area where high school students can go without a car.  While our community is home to many shopping centers, they are all in separate locations along Perry Highway or McKnight Road, so walking between them is dangerous.  In addition, the early closing times make staying in one area for a night of fun difficult and unappealing.  Without a car, high schoolers can become stranded in the parking lot of a half-closed shopping center, at the mercy of their parents’ schedule.

McCandless is a town of change.  New stores, residences, restaurants, and more are continually being built throughout the community.  Nonetheless, there is an acute lack of activities and places where high schoolers can enjoy a night out with friends.  So, what should be done? 

To start, stores and restaurants should attempt to have a later closing hour.  For example, if the restaurants in McCandless Crossing stayed open until 10:00pm, they would be able to capitalize on the droves of moviegoers who opted for the later showings.  If Ross Park Mall or The Block stayed open until 10:00, the many popular shops could collect more profit from the high school audience.  In addition, they could begin hosting entertainment venues, making the malls more appealing. 

Additionally, while the economy is still in various states of ruin and repair, perhaps more public areas could be considered.  A small public plaza or courtyard could bring in crowds from around the area.  Coffee shops, ice cream parlors, and small businesses could line the area, offering affordable goods, snacks, and ideally entertainment, too.  Benches, tables, and game areas could offer a chance to meet new friends and enjoy the outdoors.  These forms of public locales have become highly successful in many European countries, and they might have a similar effect on McCandless. 

It’s quite obvious that what we have now, which isn’t bad in relative terms, isn’t exactly welcoming to the next generation of consumers or those seeking some way to escape the boredom of a post-Covid teenage existence.