Neighbors ride herd on Livestock fans
By RYAN DAVIS, Times Staff Writer
ZEPHYRHILLS -- Every year, Jerry Lenox comes out of retirement so he can help protect his neighborhood against fans of Livestock, the weekend rock concert across the street.
"If we didn't, they'd be in the pool and the bathrooms," the former New York state prison guard said Saturday.
Lenox, 71, remembers when several concertgoers skinny-dipped in a neighborhood retention pond -- alongside alligators.
"A lot of the girls take their tops off," said his neighbor, Trudy Pingel.
That still happens, Lenox said. "I got flashed yesterday."
The residents of Tropical Acres Estates, a retirement enclave of more than 300 manufactured homes, began hunkering down Thursday, when thousands of Livestock fans started lining up on nearby U.S. 301.
On Saturday, they could see the tent city that had sprung up at the concert site. Among the inhabitants was Sherman Newman, 21, of Bradenton. He was trying to figure out what day it was.
Sitting next to him in the dirt was 18-year-old Mike Monroe, who had spent most of the previous night searching for his campsite.
"We just met this morning, dude. It's great," said Monroe, of Tampa. "He's a DJ and I'm a drummer."
Like thousands of others, the two had come to Livestock for the music, which continues today at 10 a.m. and includes Stone Temple Pilots and Kevin Martin of Candlebox.
But the show isn't only about music.
"It's just a huge party," said 21-year-old Audrey Alten of Sarasota, who wore ripped jeans and a tank top. She and 22-year-old Tim Ackerman bought $5 Pepsis at 9 a.m. She needed the refreshment; he needed something to combat a hangover.
Pasco County sheriff's deputies were monitoring the party. They made at least 16 concert-related arrests overnight Friday, most of them involving drugs. That follows at least 24 arrests on Thursday, before the gates even opened.
Most of Friday's arrests were made on the roads around the festival. Three were at the site, including one person who faces a criminal mischief charge for the destruction of another camper's tent.
Last year, deputies made four arrests and ejected about a dozen people. The greater number this year is from the use of undercover deputies, sheriff's spokesman Jon Powers said.
The local hospital, East Pasco Medical Center, also beefed up staffing in preparation for the weekend. Last year it treated more than 60 Livestock patients, including one who died from an apparent drug overdose.
From his perch on a blue plastic lawn chair, Lenox said it has been a calmer atmosphere this year. It's not as calm as the strawberry festivals and fairs that his friends attend, but he said he would go to Livestock if he were 40 years younger.
"Forty years ago," his neighbor Pingel shot back, "you still would have been old."
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