CLEARWATER — A daylong rap concert, a Scientology gathering, spring training games and spring break crowds could lead to some heavy local traffic throughout the weekend.
Hip-hop legend Snoop Dogg will headline Wild Splash, the annual music festival organized by Wild 94.1, beginning Saturday afternoon at Coachman Park. The show, with rapper Wiz Khalifa and R&B singer Keri Hilson, has regularly drawn thousands downtown. Gates open at 1 p.m.; headliners are expected around sunset.
A Church of Scientology event celebrating founder L. Ron Hubbard's 100th birthday also will bring followers to the church's downtown centers and Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Organizers in Clearwater have planned for several thousand people to attend. Protesters for the amorphous activist group Anonymous will likely make an appearance.
Extra-duty police officers will patrol both the church's events and Wild Splash.
Also this weekend: the Tampa Bay Rays will visit North Pinellas for spring training, facing the Philadelphia Phillies at Clearwater's Bright House Field on Saturday and the Toronto Blue Jays at Dunedin's Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Sunday.
Not likely to help congestion is the recent closure of Cleveland Street, between Missouri and Martin Luther King Jr. avenues. The block of downtown's main drag closed last month for resurfacing and streetscaping. Downtown visitors can detour northward onto Drew Street. Construction is expected to last through the beginning of next year.
Debuting at Coachman Park in 2000, Wild Splash returned to Clearwater last year after two years at Tampa's Ford Amphitheatre. The show is one of the station's most popular: Organizers expect tickets to sell out on Friday, bringing a crowd of 15,000.
In 2001, several showgoers were arrested, including Morning Freak Show host Brian "Flyin' Brian" Jameson, who was charged with possessing drug paraphernalia.
Last year, police said, only three were arrested. Two were suspected of drug abuse and treated under the Marchman Act.
Contact Drew Harwell at [email protected] or (727) 445-4170.