tampabay.com

Hot pink freak-out zone

Tampa turns into a girls club worshiping at the feet of Miley Cyrus.

By REBECCA CATALANELLO, Times Staff Writer
Published November 20, 2007


TAMPA - Sure, snicker. Cringe and roll your eyes.

But did your first concert include a chance to take a picture with your idol's grandma? What about a chance to win her baby blue Daisy Rock guitar or peek inside the tour bus?

All was possible in the screaming, jumping, hot pink sing-along that fed the pre-Hannah Montana concert frenzy at the St. Pete Times Forum on Monday night.

Doubt this statement if you must, but every Florida girl from infant to age 13 descended on downtown Tampa for the show. Or it seemed that way.

They wore lots of pink. And boots. Better yet, pink boots. Boots with flashing lights, furry brown boots, leopard-print boots, black boots with pompoms.

"She's the awesomest!" shrieked 9-year-old Isabel Ulm of Tampa.

Unfamiliar with Hannah Montana, 14 going on 15, the alter ego of Miley Cyrus, daughter of singer Billy Ray Cyrus?

Then seek guidance from the cluster of St. Mary's Episcopal Day School pupils, jumping up and down and singing the lyrics to Pumping Up the Party, which blasted outside the Forum as a DJ gave away front-row tickets.

"Her birthday is Nov. 23!" Jordan Pitisci, 10, shouted.

"Her real name is Destiny Hope," 9-year-old Bella Giordano chimed in.

"Before she was called Miley, she was called Smiley, because she smiles a lot," said an earnest Madeliane King, age 9.

Hannah Montana is a stage name. When she's not rocking out for adoring crowds in a blond wig, she's secretly the down-to-earth brunette named Miley - at least, that's the plot to the hit-television-show-turned-live-concert phenomenon.

And they might not admit it right out, but if you saw the scene at the Forum, you'd know that parents - even the ones like Yvan Kelly, 50, of St. Augustine, who buried a pair of orange earplugs in his right pants pocket - kind of dig Hannah, too.

Otherwise, would they really have shelled out for the hard-to-get tickets, which averaged $68.75 at face value, but went for as much as $4,572 online?

Barbie Shultz, 33, of Cape Coral bopped her head from side to side singing, "Who said, who said I can't be Superman?" while she waved her glow sticks and walked alongside her more reserved 7-year-old daughter, Katey. Mom paid only face value. "I think I'm more excited than she is!" Shultz said.

Tracy Avant, 35, of Orlando last went to a concert 11 years ago. Garth Brooks. Her first was Duran Duran, at age 14.

Avant and two girlfriends scored Hannah Montana tickets for themselves and their three girls, ages 6 and 7, and decided to make an occasion of it - including a trip to the Mac cosmetics counter for all six of them before the show.

"I get to be 7 again," Avant said, beaming and batting her extra-long eyelashes. "It's such a relief to have an excuse to act this way."

This way? Well, posing with Miley Cyrus' real-life grandmother outside the hot pink tour bus like Avant's 7-year-old, Rachel, did. Singing into a microphone along withThe Best of Both Worlds in front of an outdoor stage like Katelyn Hannah Robinson, 7, of Zephyrhills did.

"How cool is this?" said Ben Robinson, 31, as he held up a digital camera to snap pictures of Katelyn belting out the tour's title song.

Who was not there?

Boys stayed home. Most of them, anyway.

Jacob Caller, 8, of Bradenton noticed he was in the minority, but he was willing to deal.

"She sings good songs," he said, coolly. And, anyway, the Rowlett Elementary student is used to being the lone boy among girls: "I do this every day in school because I'm in chorus."

Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at rcatalanello@sptimes.com or 813 226-3383.