ONTARIO — What happens when one of the most famous rappers alive today headlines an impromptu concert in a sleepy city in Eastern Oregon?
If you ask Ontario’s police department, they’ll tell you: gridlock, noise complaints, and pending legal action.
Steven Romero, the city’s police chief, estimates anywhere between 2,500 and 3,000 people flocked to a barren lot in Ontario Saturday to catch a performance by Snoop Dogg. The concert was put together to celebrate the opening of a downtown cannabis shop, Hotbox Farms. The rapper was reportedly connected through a promoter to one of the business owners.
Provided only one day of notice, the police department says they had no chance to prepare for the area’s population to swell by about a third. When the department’s attempt to thwart the event by denying their request for a permit proved fruitless, the city activated its “major incident response protocol.”
Even this, the department said, would have been inefficient had something gone horribly wrong at the event.
“In my professional opinion, Hot Box Inc., placed our local community in jeopardy,” Romero said in an emailed statement. The department will now be “speaking with the City Attorneys office to discuss what actions will be taken if any against HotBox.”
Hotbox owners have not yet responded to requests for comment.
Tracy Hammond, who runs a home goods store in the area, said she’d never seen the city so jammed. Residents reported delays as long as an hour while trying to run their daily errands. Cars with Idaho plates filled up the city’s box store parking lots.
“You felt like you were in Boise,” she said.
Hammond said she avoided the concert because “Snoop Dogg’s not [her] favorite person.” But she said her friends who went “had the time of their lives.”
“People told me he threw thousands and thousands of dollars,” she said.
Snoop Dogg’s representatives were not immediately able to confirm the accounts. News footage from the event does show a smoking Snoop Dogg playing Kid Cudi’s “Day ’N’ Nite” and performing “Hold Up” to an ecstatic crowd.
The sounds of Snoop Dogg lyrics — and the fireworks that accompanied it — trickled over the Snake River and into neighboring Fruitland, Idaho.
That city’s police department fielded a half dozen noise complaints from residents alarmed to find their Saturday evening disrupted by a concert in the state next door.
Fruitland police captain Cy Armstrong said he could hear the concert from his home a mile away from the venue.
It wasn’t his thing.
“Put it this way, I’m 59 years old,” Armstrong said. “I couldn’t even tell you what he sings.”
“If it was Pink Floyd or something, I probably would have enjoyed that,” he added.