ST PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) – John Cullen and Zoie Torres thought they were doing a nice thing when they placed a public piano outside of their downtown St. Petersburg bar. That’s what they thought. Last week, they were shocked to discover someone had kicked it over, destroying it.
The couple has owned the Amsterdam on Central Avenue for the past two years. Cullen and Torres say the piano was only out for two days before it was trashed. “I was extremely saddened. Extremely disappointed.” Said Torres. “And then anger and frustrated. I was just really sad because I knew that kids had painted it. We’re all about art and the community.”
Cullen echoed Torres’ feelings. “You’re hurt by it. You’re angry.” Said Cullen. “You just don’t understand why someone would do something like that to something that’s part of the neighborhood. Something that’s for the public. Maybe they don’t understand. Maybe they just think it’s a junk piano. Probably kids. ”
The bar owners didn’t report the vandalism to police because the piano was old and didn’t have much value. But St. Petersburg Police Spokesman Mike Puetz says the piano vandals aren’t jokesters, they’re criminals. “Anytime you have someone down there that’s just breaking … Whether it be a piano or benches or window or anything like that …. For no reason.” Said Puetz. “And like I say a lot of times we see things happening like this with people that have had too much to drink. ”
Cullen and Torres say the vandals haven’t deterred them. They hope to hold a fundraiser, to raise money to place public pianos all over the city’s downtown.