ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Downtown St. Pete’s Pelican Pub is back open Thursday after a voluntary two-day closure. Bar patrons took to social media, complaining of a mystery rash they say came from sitting on a bench inside the bar.

“It was the worst pain I have ever felt,” said St. Pete’s Rachel Renn who says she was at the Pelican Pub last Friday and immediately began experiencing irritation after sitting on the bar’s bench.

“My skin felt like it was burning and bubbling off,” said Renn, describing the pain as it got worse the following day.

Renn says that’s why she and others are not laughing about a tongue-in-cheek promotion celebrating the return of the Pelican Pub and the "burial of the bench," which was hauled off Wednesday.

“I got an invite to the reopening, and I just didn't appreciate that,” said Renn.  “I didn't think they were taking it seriously.”

Renn says it was that email and other social media posts prompting her to speak out for the first time since stirring up attention about the mystery rash on social media last week.

She says she's among as many as 80 people to now come forward claiming they had an immediate reaction after sitting on the bar's bench since May.

“I told my boyfriend 'let's get out of here.' I have to wipe my legs off. I'm uncomfortable," Renn said.

By the next day, Renn says the reaction was so bad her mother was rushing her to the Emergency Room at St. Anthony's Hospital.

“When I got there they said ‘what happened?’ I said...‘oh I sat on a bench at a bar and my body is freaking out…’ and they said ‘oh Pelican Pub?’”

"I said ‘how do you know?’ They said ‘we've had five other cases.’”

The mystery surrounding what caused the irritation remains. Local health department leaders found no major problems during multiple inspections but did uncover two bed bugs on the bench. Rachel believes her reaction was not from the bugs but potentially from a combination of pesticides and cleaning solutions that triggered everyone's reaction.

“I don't know, I don't need to know,” said Renn. “As long as they are putting an end to it.”

The bar is now officially apologizing, pointing out they remained transparent throughout the process and took immediate action.

“Anyone who is offended, we're deeply sorry if they're offended,” said Pelican Pub spokesperson James Judge. “We'd like them to come out. There's a free round of shots at midnight.”

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