County Commissioner Ed Collins was supposed to attend a special prayer service at 7 p.m. Friday to start Pornography Awareness Week, which was proclaimed to be Oct. 30-Nov. 6.
He arrived about 8 p.m., however, due to a last-minute commitment _ and found a pleasant surprise.
"The greatest thing about being here tonight was that it took me a while to find a parking space," he said.
About 35 people came to the event in a parking lot just a few yards from the Pasco Pussycat, an adult bookstore on Orchid Lake Road that has been a controversial issue in New Port Richey for nearly a year. The assembled prayed, sang hymns and heard messages of encouragement from religious and political leaders. Many wore white ribbons as a symbol against pornography.
"We're not here to protest," said Pastor Paul Womble of the Light of the World Tabernacle of Port Richey. "We're here to proclaim." He spoke of their frequent prayer meetings "rescuing" people from the Pasco Pussycat.
"We have seen results. We have seen hundreds of people who were going in there turn around and go back out." Womble's church is the headquarters for Citizens Opposed to Pornography, Etc., or COPE, which organized Friday's event.
COPE member Helen Kozcur encouraged the audience to attend the New Port Richey City Council meeting Tuesday night. A public hearing on the zoning ordinance, which will govern adult-use businesses, is scheduled for that meeting, she said.
Kozcur also had a copy of the state proclamation, signed by Gov. Lawton Chiles, which declares Pornography Awareness Week. It says pornography "degrades and dehumanizes both male and female participants" and "presents a false and distorted image of human sexuality."
"The sanctity of Americans' homes has been invaded by dial-a-porn, cableporn, videoporn, satellite-to-dish porn, radio porn, computer porn and rock music porn," the proclamation reads.
Collins was joined by New Port Richey council member Ted Thomas, Port Richey council member Jack England, House District 46 independent candidate Joseph Mastrocolo and Jacqueline Lewnes, director of the Pasco chapter of the Christian Coalition.
No voices were raised in support of the Pasco Pussycat although a sign on the store's front door makes the point clearly:
"If nudity offends you, then do not enter."