TAMPA, Fla. – What ended in the glow of a movie projector over a captive audience on the lawn of the Seminole Heights Garden Center started with an idea shortly after the arrest of a suspected serial killer.
"Our thought was: Let’s go to a public place and let’s light up the dark," said Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa.
Because it was the dark that put a damper on life outdoors in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood in the weeks following the random murders of four innocent people.
"We have two dogs and I wasn’t walking them at night, I didn’t feel comfortable walking them by myself," said Sarah Stutezman, who brought her family to watch the screening of Disney's 'Moana' Saturday night.
"There is a different feeling now... it’s starting to feel like the neighborhood we all wanted it to be anyways in the first place."
A movie night seemed like the perfect plot to get things popping again, according to Cruz, who said she paid for the event out-of-pocket.
"It's taking us out of the darkness," she said. "We’re celebrating a victory and not speaking about a murderer, but talking about a community that came together.”
Cruz recognized Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, who in turn recognized residents of the neighborhood for standing strong in the face of weeks of uncertainty.
For resident Rick Bennett, an outdoor movie night with families was a significant sign of progress.
“Yes, I think anything outside is nice because it will remind us and remind the city that everything is OK," he said.
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