The Paly Voice

First game under lights shows bright future for Paly stadium

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The crowd cheered and adrenaline pumped on and off the field; overwhelmed ticket collectors rushed to admit the long line of spectators who came to witness Paly’s first football game under new lights.

On Friday nights across the country, high school communities come together to cheer on their football teams under lit stadiums. This Friday, Palo Alto High School students and supporters joined in on the Friday night lights tradition, as the varsity football team played its first home game of the 2004 season under brand new lights. According to Anne Jensen, Paly’s attendance specialist, the crowd numbered higher than previous years’ regular season games.

"There must be at least a thousand people," Jensen said. "There are a lot of families; this is the biggest turn-out I’ve ever seen."

The lights, the object of much debate between Palo Alto City Council and the Board of Education during the end of the 2003-2004 school year, apparently lived up to expectations.

"Everyone said that the community would turn out to see games under the lights, and I think this [the crowd] is a testimony to the fact that that is true," said Sandra Pearson, Paly’s interim principal from 2002-2004, who came to be a part of the event.

Those manning the merchandise stand noticed that the crowd at the night game seemed much more school spirited than past attendants. Out of the long lines of people who came to watch the game, many chose to purchase Paly team gear.

"It’s like we’re selling school spirit," merchandise sales volunteer Shelley Jones, mother of varsity player junior Teddy Jones, said. "It was a boom night because it was so brisk; the hooded Paly sweatshirts were our biggest sellers."

In addition to spectators from Paly and Mountain View, the opposing team, the crowd included class of ’84 alumni who were back for their twenty-year reunion. Former Paly staff members also attended, such as Marilyn Mayo, a recently retired social studies teacher.

"The place is packed," Mayo said. "The lights have worked out great, just great."

However, the community’s feelings towards the lights are mixed. Several residents in the neighborhoods close to Paly’s football field expressed concern that the lights mean noisier evenings and greater disturbances.

"The band is really loud, and so is the speaker," Churchill Ave resident Hartmut Sadrozinsqi said. "The lights shine into our windows. Our daughter is trying to sleep. They need blinders. We’ve tried to tell the administration but we haven’t heard back from them."

Other residents welcome the new lights and later game times. "It’s a great community event; I’m sure the students are thrilled," Churchill Ave resident Carol Anderson said. "It’s a neat thing to see. I understand that Paly students want to have a fun night event."

With new night-time games, Paly has implemented new security measures. Along with Palo Alto administrative staff, Paly has obtained the help of the Palo Alto Police Department and San Mateo Security, according to vice principal Chuck Merritt.

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