Parents line up before dawn to secure spot in St. Pete after school program

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— More than 100 parents were in line outside the Shore Acres Recreation Center starting at 2 a.m. Monday to secure their kids a spot in the after-school program for the upcoming school year. 

The recreation center only has 120 spots for elementary school kids and 50 spots for middle school kids — it's one of the smallest recreation centers in St. Petersburg.

Every year parents line up extremely early on sign up day, but this year was by far the earliest.

Parents tell ABC Action News the recreation center’s program is wildly popular because parents and kids love the curriculum and staff at the center. However, they wish there was a better way to register for the program that didn't involve showing up before dawn.

The Shore Acres Rec Center went through 30 dozen donuts and more than 300 bottles of water.

Every spot in the program was taken by 9:30 AM, only 2.5 hours after the recreation center opened its doors.

Sherrish Long, who works at the Shore Acres Recreation Center, says they are working to find a better solution to cut back on the time parents spend in line.

“It gets difficult managing both online and physical registrations, it can get confusing. As of now, this is the process we follow to allow first come first serve. We are trying to do what we can to make it as quick and painless. In the future, it would be great to evolve to something easier. We are looking into it.”

Laran Stover signed up her son for the second year in a row.

“I got there at 4:15 a.m. and I was the 13th person in line. Last year, I lined up at 3 a.m. Everyone is desperate for a spot in the program,” she explained. “All that black Friday shopping over the years prepared me for this. Only instead of a TV, I’m securing a spot for my son. That means the stakes are higher.”

Frank Edgar signed his son up for the first time on Monday.

“I was shocked to see how many people got there before me, and I was there at 4 a.m.!” he explained. “We were told the earlier you get there, the better your chance of getting a spot. We did not want to risk it.” 

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