TAMPA, Fla. – The search for a serial killer in southeast Seminole Heights brought the community to a halt while businesses took a big hit.
That's why neighbors joined together to 'Light the Heights' as police worked to solve the murders of Benjamin Mitchell, Monica Hoffa, Anthony Naiboa and Ronald Felton.
Initially, volunteers started putting up Christmas lights on as many homes as possible. But following the arrest of a suspect, their mission to simply brighten the neighborhood turned into a full-blown campaign to get business booming again."A lot of (the businesses) had a lot of trouble," said 'Light the Heights' co-organizer Courtney Bumgarner. “We just wanted to do what we could to support them because they supported us. They were donation stations for us and a huge reason why we were so successful.”
All day Sunday, a free HART trolley was even shuttling people between 18 stops to the different businesses.The 'Light the Heights' campaign collected enough donated lights to decorate more than 60 homes in the area.
But bigger than business, relatives of Monica Hoffa's rallied dozens of bikers for a motorcycle memorial ride to coincide with 'Light the Heights.'
The ride, which started in Lutz and ended at Southern Brewing, stopped along the way at the vacant lot where Hoffa's body was found. It's a space where memorials now stand, including four lighted angels placed there by volunteers to represent each victim.December 10, 2017
Hoffa's relatives were joined by the family of Anthony Naiboa. Both families took a moment to thank the community for their continued support.
"There’s been such a darkness shed over this community," said Robert Hoffa, Monica's uncle. "We wanted to bring some more light back to it and we heard about the economy in the community too and thought if we could we wanted to bring all our friends down and enjoy the community together.”
'Light the Heights' organizers say they hope to make the event an annual tradition to continue promoting the neighborhood's small businesses.
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