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Has the Square gone over the edge?

   Thursday at the Square is a Western New York institution, now as much a part of summers in Buffalo as Chiavetta's chicken, Old Man River hot dogs and fried dough.

   The free outdoor concerts in Lafayette Square are a weekly excuse to meet your friends, schoolmates or co-workers for some cold beer and good music and warm weather.

   The people watching isn't bad, either. I should know; I've been going since I was a University at Buffalo student in the mid-1990s.

   But I, and other veteran concertgoers and observers, have noticed that the crowd at and around the square is changing. It's younger, it seems to be made up of fewer professionals and it's drawing more people who aren't going for the music.

   Buffalo and Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority police say serious crimes are rare at the square and at the Metro Rail stations and on the cars. But a melee that occurred on a subway car last Thursday - and was recorded and posted on YouTube - may make some people think twice about coming downtown for the square.

   So, what do you think of the concerts? Do you agree that the crowds are changing? What do you think of all the young people who hang out along Main Street?

   Should Buffalo Place bring back more oldies bands, or move the start time back to 5 p.m. from its current 6 p.m. start time, or provide more security?

   Is alcohol too much a part of the concerts these days? And is all of this making you reconsider going downtown for the concerts?

  --- Stephen T. Watson

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