CLEARWATER — The organizers of Friday evening's "Miracle on Cleveland Street" know what they really need to make the event in downtown Clearwater a success.
They need two snow slides, not just one.
The crowds at the free annual event have grown way too big for just one slide. Too many Florida kids can't pass up a rare opportunity to play in the snow.
That's why two toboggan slides will be set up in the 500 and 600 blocks of Cleveland Street, covered with 20 tons of snow.
"Having the second snow ramp will be great," said Kevin Carlon, director of Blast Friday, the business that's coordinating the event. "Last year, just having one ramp made for long lines."
This will be the third-annual "Miracle." At least 2,500 people attended the first year, and roughly 5,000 attended last year, said Bill Sturtevant, chairman of the Clearwater Downtown Partnership.
The plan was to have two snow slides last year, too. But the organizers lost access to one of the slides when they were forced to postpone the event for a week due to heavy rain.
"The unfortunate thing was that when we had to close the slide at 9:30, there were over 150 kids still in line," Sturtevant said.
That won't be a problem this year. Friday's weather should be chilly but dry.
The event, which runs from 5:30 to 10 p.m., will also feature a holiday bazaar, a visit from Santa Claus, entertainment from Busch Gardens, carolers, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages. Live music will be headlined by country singer Danielle Peck.
And at 7 p.m., the city will hold its annual tree lighting ceremony at Station Square Park.
But the main attraction is the snow. Workers from Gainesville Ice truck in blocks of ice, grind it into powder, and run it through snow blowers to cover the ramps.
"Miracle has turned out to be quite an event. When we started it, it was just kind of an idea," Sturtevant said. "It's grown to be something that so many people really look forward to."
Mike Brassfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4160.