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Teens gather for Vans Warped Tour in St. Petersburg park

ST. PETERSBURG

Overcast skies gave way to scorching sunshine as thousands poured into Vinoy Park on Sunday for the Vans Warped Tour.

Tour organizers expected as many as 15,000 at the nine-hour music festival, now in its 15th year. By 12:30 p.m. about 9,000 filled the park.

They came for the music and the experience.

"The energy, the sweat, the music, the whole atmosphere, it's amazing," said Emily Hedrick, 17, of St. Petersburg who attended the festival for the fifth time.

The show drew an eclectic, mostly teenage crowd. Some sported piercings and tattoos. Others looked pretty much like boys or girls next door. Hairdos ranged from schoolgirl ponytails to pink and blue hair. Guys sported everything from mullets to spiky Mohawks.

Even before the concert kicked into full gear, about 100 teens gathered near a stage on the south end of the park, clapping their hands in the air.

Among the crowd were 13-year-olds Jillian Land and Kylie Campbell.

They came to see the White Tie Affair, but after the pop-punk band All Time Low finished its set, Jillian gushed, "I love this band now."

The girls were escorted by Jillian's mom, Joanne, and Kat Lundquist, 35, who said, "I'm the auntie that used to go to these things when I was that age."

Around noon, hundreds of teens crammed near the main stage to hear Devil Wears Prada. Dozens bodysurfed over the crowd, hoisted by other concertgoers.

Throughout the park, some teens congregated in groups, chatting or bustling to one of the event's seven stages. A few girls skipped through the park holding hands.

Some concertgoers beat the heat by chugging lemonade or licking ice cream cones. Others huddled in a water misting tent or glided on an inflatable waterslide near the middle of the park.

A slew of merchants lined the venue, peddling munchies, music, T-shirts, sunglasses and printed scarves. Others pushed causes or condoms.

Leah Moore, 28, handed out cards to promote her Tampa business, a tattoo parlor and salon.

She planned to check out Cash Cash and All Time Low, among others, for "happy music that you cannot be depressed to sing to," she said.

Hedrick's friend, Jackie Amick, who attended the festival for the fourth time, said she digs both the music and the camaraderie.

"You see so many friends. And it's so much fun to see all of the bands," she said. "You create really great memories.''

Teens gather for Vans Warped Tour in St. Petersburg park 07/26/09 [Last modified: Sunday, July 26, 2009 10:50pm]
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