All across Tampa, purple (or blue) street lights can be seen amidst rows of white and yellow lights. Take a ride down Cross Creek Blvd. and you’ll see almost a dozen of them.

Curiosity about why these lights have randomly popped up has led to a number of television stories and a few Reddit and threads.

And, even a few conspiracy theories. So let’s clear the air:

* The purple lights are not a super secret crime deterrent.

* The lights are not a super duper light pollution fighter.

* The light are not there to make it harder for heroin users to find a spot to shoot up.

* They are not collecting your vital information through some new technology.

* They are not an homage to Prince on the fifth anniversary of his death last April, and Tampa Electric just hasn’t gotten around to replacing the lights.

(Sorry, the last one was our own conspiracy theory)

Nope, nothing like that.

The purple lights are just, well, good lights gone bad.

According to TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs, the lights have merely fallen prey to a manufacturer’s defect that turns them from white to purple.

 “We are almost done, but we are replacing all of our street lights with new energy-efficient LED technology,” Jacobs says. “The model that was made in 2019 had a manufacturing defect, and that has affected a small percentage of the lights.

“But, they are very noticeable.”

Indeed they are. The lights cast a purple hue across the road, and turn everything under the light poles a purple color. It has been explained in other stories that each light contains red, yellow and blue filters, but the yellow filters are the ones that have been malfunctioning, and the red and blue filters then create a definite purple tint.

The lights are so noticeable that Jacobs jokes that she is getting as many media requests for explanations than just about anything else these days. Concerned residents are calling television stations to get answers — News Channel 8 WFLA-TV and WTVT-TV Fox 13 recently did stories on the lights — and we’ve even received a few emails about the them.

“We are working with the manufacturer,” Jacobs says. “They are under warranty and we are replacing them as we are learning about them.”

Considering that we are living in the age of crazy conspiracy theories, it should be no surprise that those purple lights have sparked a few, including this doozy — the lights are used to identify if you have been vaccinated against Covid-19, making you glow, and therefore keeping you out of FEMA camps that the government will be setting up for the unvaccinated where you see the lights.

No, not true. At least we don’t think so.

And, the purple lights aren’t just a Tampa thing, or a TECO thing. All across the country, purple lights have been popping up in South Carolina, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Wisconsin, drawing the same kind of scrutiny from residents.

Just a few days after this story went to press, Jacobs informed us that TECO is patrolling its entire system and will replace all purple lights. It should take several months, she wrote, so after originally setting up a web page for residents to report the location of the purple lights, no need to report the lights anymore.

“See a purple light? No further action is required of anyone,” Jacobs says. “We’ll fix it as soon as we can.”

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