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Clearwater plans enhanced park events
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CLEARWATER – In efforts to move forward with implementation of a variety of suggestions put forth to city leaders in the Imagine Clearwater master plan, the Clearwater Parks and Recreation department is working to increase entertainment offerings in downtown Clearwater, specifically Coachman Park, Station Square Park and the East Gateway area.

Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Dunbar updated city council members during a strategic planning session on plans to activate the downtown entertainment district by scheduling multiple events throughout the week that would serve to bring more people to the area.

“Basically, what we are looking to do, is looking at expanding event opportunities and cultural opportunities,” Dunbar said. “We’ve been working the CRA to come up with a common piece. We’re focused right now on enhancing our existing events and try to expand those to be even greater.”

New activities and events planned for the remainder of the year and for 2018 include:

• Growing the Clearwater Sea-Blues Festival so that it will host multiple stages and performance areas and will include stages in downtown and Station Square Park, in addition to its performance areas in Coachman Park.

• Replace the current Fun ’n Sun festival with the Bay2Beach Festival, which will showcase the downtown area through multiple stages at Station Square Park, Coachman Park and through the city’s Blast Friday configuration. The festival is set to include live music, art exhibits and craft vendors.

• The city is also working with area partners to produce smaller concert venues, such as this week’s past performance by Kenny G at Coachman Park. This marks a significant shift from a festival plan, which courts crowds of 10,000 and more with an all-day performance to a smaller crowd of 3,000 to 6,000 with shorter performances.

• The Pierce Street Market has been an economic and cultural boon to downtown Clearwater and the city hopes to expand that offering by adding a morning yoga component on a bi-weekly basis and collaborating with other events in the area.

Other events under discussion include movie nights, expansion of the Arts in the Park program, monthly events featuring local music and food and beverage-themed events, highlighting food trucks and local breweries, weekly exercise classes and cultivation of a cultural event for the fall, possibly in conjunction with the Florida Orchestra.

Dunbar said the city has the current staff and maintenance structure in place to maintain and enhance event activities for the remainder of the year.
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