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St. Petersburg sign shakers can keep on dancing

Darryl Hooker promotes the Halloween Store on U.S. 19 in St. Petersburg on Monday. He was concerned about a now dead city proposal to outlaw dancing, roadside human billboards, his lone source of income. The photo was taken with a Diana plastic box camera on 120 roll film. The negative was scanned to include text imprinted on the film.

EVE EDELHEIT | Times

Darryl Hooker promotes the Halloween Store on U.S. 19 in St. Petersburg on Monday. He was concerned about a now dead city proposal to outlaw dancing, roadside human billboards, his lone source of income. The photo was taken with a Diana plastic box camera on 120 roll film. The negative was scanned to include text imprinted on the film.

Human billboards are expected to be dancing hard all over St. Petersburg.

The City Council will not stop them from shaking, jumping or spinning on street corners.

A formal vote is expected tonight on regulation of the display of commercial signs, which includes sign wavers. An earlier proposal would have banned so-called sign spinners from waving or moving signs along roadways.

But at the urging of business owners and sign wavers, council members ordered changes to protect sign wavers.

The new proposal does force sign wavers to stay 5 feet off the road and out of parking spaces and forbids interfering with traffic turning into parking lots. Dancing is allowed. One part of the original ordinance remains: The human signs cannot do the hustle or chicken dance while on risers, stilts, vehicles or roofs.

Many human billboards depend on the shaking and dancing to support themselves. For Darryl Hooker, who started Oct. 1 at the Halloween Store on U.S. 19, sign spinning is his primary job. He makes minimum wage. "I need the money," Hooker said.

Liberty Tax Service depends on Lady Liberty to promote itself all over the region.

"We don't do commercials, so this is how we market," said Tyisha Marshall, a three-year employee. "It's like we are a walking commercial. Still, it's about more than touting a business. We have children and bills to pay."

— Eve Edelheit, Times photojournalist

St. Petersburg sign shakers can keep on dancing 10/31/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:04pm]
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