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A view of fest from across street

It's not that they don't like Livestock, they say. It's just that residents of Tropical Acres want to protect their community.

By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 28, 2002


ZEPHYRHILLS -- Every year Jerry Lenox comes out of retirement to work as a guard again. He guards his retirement community against rock music fans from Livestock, the concert across the street.

"If we didn't, they'd be in the pool and the bathrooms," the 71-year-old retired New York state prison guard said.

In years past, rowdy youths skinny-dipped in the neighborhood retention pool, Lenox said.

"A lot of the girls take their tops off," said his neighbor Trudy Pingel.

It's true, Lenox said, "I got flashed yesterday."

Since the crowds started lining up Thursday on U.S. 301, residents at Tropical Acres Estates -- an enclave of more than 300 manufactured homes -- have been working two-hour shifts at the front door to their community. They live just half a mile north of the nearest entrance to the annual concert.

On Saturday morning, Lenox and his wife as well as Tom and Trudy Pingel sat in plastic lawn chairs at the side of U.S. 301. They had drawn the 8 to 10 a.m. shift.

They don't dislike the concert, they said. They just want to limit their streets to people 55 and older.

"We even go to Busch Gardens when they have big bands," Tom Pingel said. "We don't mind the music."

But when Pingel says "big bands," he's not talking about Stone Temple Pilots or Kevin Martin, two of the acts scheduled to perform today -- the final day of the 12th annual concert.

"It's just a huge party," said concertgoer Audrey Alten of Sarasota, who awoke early Saturday morning after four hours of sleep in the festival campground.

Aside from the retirees, Pasco County sheriff's deputies were also monitoring the party. They made 16 concert-related arrests overnight Friday. The arrestees face 38 charges, mostly related to drugs, deputies said.

Most of the arrests were made on the roads around the festival. Three arrests were at the site, including one person facing a criminal mischief charge after he destroyed another camper's tent.

No matter the arrests, Lenox said it has been a calmer atmosphere this year. He would probably go to Livestock if he was 40 years younger, he said.

"Forty years ago," Trudy Pingel shot back, "you still would have been old."

-- Ryan Davis is the police reporter in Pasco County. He can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6245, or toll-free at 800-333-7505, ext. 6245. His e-mail address is rdavis@sptimes.com.

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