ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hundreds of Pinellas County residents gathered on Thursday for the National Day of Prayer.

  • National Day of Prayer event held at Gibbs High School
  • Event drew participants of many different faiths
  • Organizers included dances, music to add local flavor to event

This year's event, held at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, drew people of different faiths and beliefs.

"We need prayer for different countries, our country, the president," said Kenneth Byers, who attended the event with his wife. "Crazy things are going on all around, and you need to keep prayed up."

Endrica Stroman brought her children. She said with the recent school violence in Parkland and other cities, she is praying for their safety.

"I pray that the kids can go to school and get an education without having to deal with all the violence and things around them," she said.

Organizers added a local flavor to the service with music and dance performances.

This year's theme was "unity," and people attending said that's something sorely needed in the country right now.

"I think this is actually the only way we're ever going to get past those dividing lines, that we're ever going to get past that anger," Amber Sherwood said.

Pastors prayed about a wide range of subjects, including the government, the military, youth and families.

Congress designated a National Day of Prayer in 1952, and in 1988, the law was amended to make the observance the first Thursday in May.