ST. PETERSBURG — A dance to raise money for new Lakewood High School football uniforms will take place as scheduled Saturday evening, a day after gunfire marred the season-opening game between rival Lakewood and Gibbs high schools.
"Tonight was going to be a celebration for their first victory and a fund-raiser to finish paying for the pants," said Rep. Darryl Rouson, who is sponsoring the dance. "When the game was stopped early because of this thug behavior, folks were a little nervous that it would spill over to tonight."
But Rouson, who has two sons on Lakewood's team, said the dance will go on — albeit with extra security.
"The whole idea behind tonight was to honor student-athletes who have worked hard," he said. "We can't let fear of bad behavior of a small minority stop us from honoring the vast majority who are doing good and working hard."
The dance starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Lake Vista Recreation Center — near where witnesses said two feuding groups of young males pulled out guns and started firing into the air.
It happened just a 100 years from the football stadium, causing players, cheerleaders, coaches, referees and a sold-out crowd of 1,500 to hit the deck. The game was ended with five minutes left on the clock and Lakewood winning 32-12. Then the stadium was evacuated.
No one was injured in the incident and St. Petersburg police said they arrested a potential witnesses afterward. But no other details about the incident have been released.
Rouson said besides the extra security St. Petersburg police have pledged to step up patrols in the area.
The Democratic lawmaker said Lakewood players haven't had new uniforms in five years, so he donated $1,300 to help get them some. Unfortunately, 65 pairs of new black and white pants alone cost $6,200.
Rouson said Gulfshore Sports Store in Pinellas Park delivered the pants after he assured the store they'd be fully paid. But he fears Friday night's shooting could hurt Saturday's fund-raiser. So he's trying to get the word out that the dance will take place as scheduled. The Lake Vista Recreation Center is at 1401 62nd Avenue S. Tickets are $12.50.
Rouson is running for re-election but should win Nov. 2 against a little-known write-in candidate.
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