ST. PETERSBURG — Through a stretch of 95-degree heat, and even during a sudden downpour, people kept arriving, the bands played and the widows watched from VIP balcony seats.
The latest outpouring of support for the wives of slain Tampa police Officers David Curtis and Jeffrey Kocab took the form of a benefit concert Sunday at Jannus Live downtown.
The entrance fee: whatever concertgoers felt like dropping into buckets bandied by Suncoast Police Benevolent Association volunteers.
And the entertainment: a diverse procession of musicians playing from 3:30 p.m. and scheduled to go on past 9 p.m., surrounded by food carts, Tampa Bay Rays mascot Raymond, and a handful of Tampa Bay Buccaneers cheerleaders.
The event was a chance for more donations to find their way to the officers' families, and for Kelly Curtis and Sara Kocab to have "a little time for them to be themselves, to spend a little time away from the kids and have a good time," said concert organizer Jane McKee.
Kocab is nine months pregnant and overdue with her first daughter, and Curtis is the mother of four children.
McKee, an event producer, said she pitched the idea for a benefit to Jannus Live co-owner Jeff Knight, and he jumped at the chance to participate.
McKee said lining up talent to play the show for free was easy. "Everybody wanted to help," McKee said.
The show was opened by singer-songwriter Amber Lynn Nicol, followed by 13-year-old country act Suite Caroline, with synth-pop group Sonic Erotica, rock band Livewire, and alternative rock group Save the Radio scheduled to round out the concert.
Livewire's lead singer, Jay Hajj, is a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy.
He said that at a time when so many are heartbroken because of the June 29 shooting that killed the officers, the opportunity to offer enjoyment was appealing.
"It's really nice to see people come together for this. It's a really nice feeling. I know it made me feel good," Hajj said.
The tragedy has sparked outpourings around Tampa Bay, driving people, even those who didn't know the officers, to help however they can.
A barbecue fundraiser on Saturday at Kathleen Middle School in Lakeland, where Sara Kocab is a dean, brought in $70,000 for the families.
WDAE-AM 620 radio hosts Ron Diaz and Ian Beckles have planned a dodgeball tournament on July 31 at the St. Pete Times Forum to benefit the families.
The Tampa Police Memorial Fund has also raised thousands for the family since the shooting. Donations can be dropped off at any location of the Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, or send a check payable to the Curtis/Kocab Fund, Tampa Police Memorial Committee, P.O. Box 172995, Tampa, FL 33672.
Dominick Tao can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 580-2951.