WARREN - More than 500 virtual signatures have been gathered for an online grassroots petition to hold a Warren pride night to replace the canceled football game, over the past two days.
"It's to say to Warren City, that for whatever reason canceled the football game, for the safety of our children, you can cancel the game but you can't cancel our pride," said petition organizer Brandon Giovannone.
Superintendent Michael Notar announced Sunday that the game was canceled in light of the police department's "high concern" of violence occurring at the event by attending adults. With three shootings in the last two weeks and two resulting in deaths, retaliation has been the concern of both the city and the school.
Giovannone of Warren, who runs the school's football game video production, began the petition Saturday evening and within a dozen hours had nearly 500 signatures.
"I currently also run the Mollenkopf Stadium Facebook Page and when I put the news out (that the Friday game was canceled), there were a lot of concerned citizens and students hurt that this was their last game," he said.
Giovannone said he would like to see the football team, cheerleaders and band members recognized at the event while local youth organizations share their information.
"The students were robbed of the night that they deserved, but we can still come together as a community to show the city and the nation that this is a town that had some thugs canceling football games and say we're going to put these football players on the field again."
Giovannone said he is not sure how the event would be kept safe, but believes the police have done a fine job at past stadium events. He also said the night should be planned by the board of education, the football coach and community members like himself.
Already he said several local business have contacted him about donating items to raffle or give away at the hypothetical event. Giovannone will be sending a formal email Monday to Mayor Doug Franklin, Superintendent Notar, High School Principal Dante Capers and members of the board of education. He hopes to have gathered 1,000 signatures by the week's end.
"I spoke with Notar briefly and he said he's working with Band Director Reid Young who is thinking of something, I think whatever it is will be good if it is something the seniors will like," Giovannone said, "I think this could be bigger that a football game, outside of the school, I think the community needs this."