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BACK IN BLACK LIGHT

The gym will be dark, but it will be easy for teens to keep an eye on the ball tonight as it soars over the volleyball net at the Long Center.

Why?

It will be glow-in-the-dark neon orange.

Players' arms, legs and other body parts will be painted neon, allowing them to appear as if they are bobbing around in the black-light darkness of the big gym.

But what may be most striking will be the purplish-white of the teens' shirts and teeth.

This all can only mean one thing: It's Neon Night at the center, where once a year children 11 to 15 can dance and play volleyball and basketball while wearing glow necklaces and luminescent body paint.

Forty-watt, black-light bulbs strung above the orange out-of-bounds lines make anything coated with fluorescent paint or anything white gleam.

The concept tantalizes teens who want to do something different on Friday night.

"We had over 100 kids last year," said Kerri Cardiello, recreation program coordinator for Safety Harbor.

Fourteen-year-old Shauna Snyder attended last year and will be there again tonight.

"It was really fun," she said. "We get little decorations. They paint little flowers on our stomachs and arms. I had a little vine with flowers."

Shauna said after being adorned with the florescent body paint, "we walked into the dark room." Inside, a DJ played rock and pop music and "we danced and played around," she said.

"It's kind of like, we can see each other, but you can't tell who's who," she said. "You just bump into each other."

Shauna said it's not much harder to play volleyball in the dark than in the daylight.

Florescent volleyball has been a feature at some business functions, and is popular at teen parties.

The technology was invented and patented in 1995 by a St. Petersburg man named W. David Poff, known as "Nightspiker Dave" and whose company is known as Nightspiker.

John Harbet is Nightspiker's vice president, and sets up the glowing net and other supplies.

The kids, he said, "get all excited" about Neon Night.

"The whole thing is fun, being under the (black lights)," Harbet said. "It's a unique after-dinner entertainment."

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