Twin Cities Pride director talks police, Target sponsorship, and moving out of Loring Park
This month's Twin Cities Pride Festival is expected to see 600,000 visitors, but there's a chance it could be the last time they flock to Minneapolis' Loring Park.
Driving the news: As the three-day, free festival continues to grow, Twin Cities Pride leaders have discussed moving the event out of the park, and Minneapolis entirely, in favor of St. Paul or a close suburb, executive director Andi Otto told Axios on Tuesday.
Why it matters: Loring Park and the surrounding neighborhood have a long history with the LGBTQ+ community. The event widely thought of as the beginning of Twin Cities Pride, a protest march and picnic with less than 100 attendees, started in the northeast corner of the park in 1972.
- The festival, which Otto said is now the second-largest event by attendance in Minnesota, has been held in some form at the 34-acre park for more than three decades.
- Last year, it saw 450,000 visitors.
What he's saying: Though the event's growth is a major factor behind the potential move, the cost of permits, security, and shutting down streets for the parade are "astronomical" in Minneapolis, Otto told Axios.
- The frontrunner location would be the state fairgrounds, which is nearly 10 times bigger than Loring Park, though they're considering St. Paul venues and others just outside of the city.
Plus: The nonprofit is now preparing for more festival visitors from states that have instituted anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, "who can feel safe and celebrate at our Pride," he added.
- Taylor Swift's concerts are also being held at U.S. Bank Stadium on the same weekend, contributing to this month's expected record numbers.
What's next: Organizers will review logistics after this year's festival and finalize the 2024 location around January.
- "Hopefully we'll be able to stay here in Minneapolis," he said.
What Otto is saying
We asked for Otto's take on sponsors, cops at Pride, and this year's activities.
🎯 On Target's sponsorship:
Target, which made headlines after pulling some of its LGBTQ+ merchandise off the shelves late last month, will remain a sponsor of Twin Cities Pride, the corporation confirmed, and will have a booth at the festival.
- Otto, who is a transgender man, said he expressed his concern and disagreement with the retailer’s decision to remove the merchandise on a call with Target executives — even offering them a chance to not participate this year.
🚔 On police:
Minneapolis Park Police officers and off-duty Minneapolis Police Department officers will be present throughout the parade, festival, and beer garden, but those officers “won’t be very visible” for the comfort of the community, Otto emphasized. There will be an additional 58 private security officers.
- Yes, but: MPD is still developing its plan for on-duty officers to patrol the city that weekend, which would include coverage at the Taylor Swift concert and Pride, an MPD spokesperson said.
🎉 On this year's activities:
The festival is expanding into the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which is connected to Loring Park via a footbridge, to hold some of the 600+ vendors, entertainment, and the Pride Beer Dabbler.
- Otto also added a fenced-in "Youth Hideaway" at the center of the park, an adult-free zone for visitors to find LGBTQ resources, try on gender-affirming clothing, and have a safe space for expression.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to show Minneapolis Park Police will also be on patrol during Twin Cities Pride festivities.
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