An aging but colorful Craigslist piano underneath an I-275 overpass in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District is the scene for public music and walkup keyboard festivities.
Two months ago, a previous piano was mysteriously smashed to pieces, leaving the sandy overpass music-free.
Thanks to local vending machine artist and Louisiana native, Kayla Cox, St. Petersburg didn’t go long without the staple instrument.
“My partner rode by on his bike and saw it smashed, so he posted it on Instagram,” Cox said. “So many people were upset, so we just decided to go ahead and go through with replacing it.”
With contacts for moving heavy, fragile objects in place from her vending machine business, Cox saw an opportunity in a $100 wooden piano posted on Craigslist.
After a few hours of painting on Sunday, June 6, the walk-up piano station was restored.
“So many people stopped me while I was painting it to thank me,” Cox said. “One woman told me the piano was the only place she could go and play and meet people during COVID.”
Third Time’s the Charm
Three pianos ago, the original instrument was a less colorful object, but still a community staple.
According to Cox, it was destroyed and restored multiple times before being deemed unrepairable. Another piano from a local artist took its place, and was also reduced to bits.
Cox’s 2021 rainbow masterpiece is the third in an unfortunate pattern.
“Why would someone smash something so community driven that people just love?” Cox said. “I mean, it’s on Central, so it could have been a drunken thing, or it could have been more than that. I have no idea.”
Regardless, locals have shown their love for the public instrument, decorating it with curious gifts: a pair of tiny rubber boots, empty picture frames and love notes.
“I have no piano skills whatsoever,” Cox said. “But every time I pass it, it seems like people are out playing it.”