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by Kathy Adams

Throngs of teenagers roamed MacArthur Center on Saturday. Some roamed empty-handed, some munched on pretzels as they window-shopped, others carried bags branded by Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch and PacSun.

The scene was much the same at Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach.

But starting Oct. 19, teens won’t be welcome at MacArthur in the evening without an adult chaperone. Mall management announced the rule last week, citing safety concerns.

The rule, that anyone younger than 18 will be required to have a chaperone who’s at least 21 after 5 p.m., has drawn mixed reactions from mall customers. In an informal survey at MacArthur and Lynnhaven on Saturday, eight in 10 opposed the age restriction.

“I don’t like it because a lot of teenagers don’t want to go to the mall and hang around with their parents,” said 15-year-old Elizabeth Roxbury, a member of a group on the social networking Web site Facebook formed to protest the new rule. “By restricting the age, you’re going to lose a lot of business.”

But Enas Awad, a mother of three from Chesapeake, said she supports the rule because it will allow her to shop without being disrupted by misbehaving teens. She said she won’t mind having to chaperone her 14-year-old son when he visits MacArthur.

“I like to come with him and see what he’s doing,” she said.

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