Crowds say goodbye to St. Pete's pier - WFLA News Channel 8

Crowds say goodbye to St. Pete's pier

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ST PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

Hundreds, if not thousands, came to the St. Petersburg Pier Friday for its last open night to the public.

"These are actually our chairs. We come here every other week," Ricky Ramirez said as he sat next to his girlfriend overlooking the Bay. "The whole pier is different from any other pier I've been to. We saw dolphins 2 weeks ago."

The day is nostalgic yet emotional. Rameh Baydoun has owned the Burger Bay restaurant here for 25 years. He's concerned about the 500 employees at the Pier as the city closes it up with intentions to build a new one called the Lens.

Baydoun has one employee and worries about him.

"For me I'm okay financially;" Baydoun said. "I'm not going to cry. But for him he just lives paycheck to paycheck. He's been with me for 5 years. I'll give him a few paychecks but that's not going to take him anywhere."

At days end, dozens walked up to the top of the Pier to watch the sunset.

Ryan Kern and his girlfriend Kristen Lowne kissed and took photos.

"It's kind of an end of an era," Lowne said.

Kern, who works at the nearby airport, says being here is something he won't soon forget.

"I mean it's not up there with birthing your first child or anything significant like that, but it's touching," he said. "I'm glad to be here."

Though the shops and restaurant will close to the public the fishing pier will eventually open back up to the public. Some city officials want the pier to come down later this year, but there are still court appeals in the works to save the structure.

Voters will choose in August if they want to move forward with the Lens concept or not.

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