MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Thousands of people are flocking to Minneapolis this weekend to celebrate the annual Pride Parade and festivities.
Despite the major construction on Interstate 35W and Interstate 94, participants are ready to hit Hennepin Avenue and Loring Park.
“I go every single year; I never miss it. I’m here every moment from start to finish,” said attendee Misha Estrian.
What began more than 40 years ago with a group of 50 people has grown into a massive event that attracts around 400,000 attendees each year.
“It’s nice that it’s so diverse compared to years past,” said attendee Melissa Renee.
“It’s an inclusive event. That’s what makes it fun,” added attendee Morgan Nelson.
This year’s theme is “Commemorate, Educate, Celebrate.”
“We’re here to give people that sense of family,” said Darcie Baumann with Twin Cities Pride.
The mission is to foster inclusion, inform and to raise awareness of issues in the LGBTQ community - such as disparities in transgender health care, LGBTQ youth homelessness and marginalization.
“To me, this event gives an opportunity to celebrate all of the accomplishments that we’ve made and to go around and find out all the issues we still need to deal with,” Baumann said.
The festival features nearly 400 vendors and 65 musical acts with Sunday highlighting the annual Pride Parade on Hennepin Avenue.
But with construction on portions of 35W and 94, getting in and out of downtown for this year’s event comes with a number of detours.
“I was just talking to some of our volunteers who came in from a rural community and they were like, ‘Oh my.’ All I can say is give yourself extra time try and find an alternative route, and if you can, take metro transit,” Baumann said.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced he will not be participating in Sunday's parade, writing, "My attention and work this morning will be on last night’s shooting. As soon as I am able, I will be joining the community to mourn, to listen, and to provide support."