Thursday night was the first time some high school football players took to field to play against other teams. Palmetto Ridge High School hosted Naples High School. Parents and teams were ready for some normalcy back in their lives.
As part of health precautions, the stands were not as packed as usual because they are practicing social distancing. There were stickers where everyone was allowed to sit. Fans wore masks at all times, but it didn’t matter. They were just excited to be back under the lights.
“It’s amazing. We’re just super excited,” said Micheal Chiatto, a father of a marching band member. “And just hearing them right now makes me feel a great lot of pride.”
It’s the sound of high school football back on the turf and the sound of parents cheering from the stand for their student-athletes.
“As you can see, it is very exciting,” said Louis Perez, the father of a football player.
“It’s Friday night lights, but it’s Thursday,” Chiatto said.
And while the home team parents for Palmetto Ridge were inside watching the game. Some parents watched from afar.
“It’s disappointing to see like kids going in here like young kids, and the main priority should be the players’ parents, whether it’s an away game or home game,” said Katrina Bonder, the mother of a football player.
Bonder watched from the parking lot because only home team students receive two tickets for family members to attend the game for safety reasons.
“I’ve never missed a football game, so we will figure out a way to see it one way or another,” Bonder said. “No matter what, wherever we got to stand on the street.”
“We were lucky to get fans in the stands,” said Mark Rosenbalm, the supervisor for interscholastic athletics for Collier County Public Schools.
Rosenbalm says he and the school district wish they could let everyone in the game, but they are trying to make the best of it.
“I think we are moving in the right direction. We gotta be patient,” Rosenbalm said. “We stream the games for those who can’t be here. Tried to make sure we covered all the bases so they can see them.”
The school district said all games will be streamed for anyone who can’t attend.
They are hopeful throughout the season that CDC guidelines will change as the case percentages go down. Parents were very pleased with all the safety precautions in place.