MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – From the buzz outside on Nicollet Mall to the beat inside at Fan Fest, the sideshows to the big games became mainstage for many Minnesotans.

“Just like with the Super Bowl experience, this is really fun so I wanted to come out and experience it with my family,” Antanaya Ferguson said.

And she is far from alone. The Alarconpadilla family from Oakdale made the trip downtown, too. They even scored some of the free logo balls.

“We played basketball for three years, so we thought it would be fun,” Jazzy and Aliyanna Alarconpadilla said.

It’s a sentiment shared by many Minnesotan.

We met Charlie Paton from Minneapolis waiting in line to taste the brand new orange vanilla Coke.

“Oh, that is amazing,” he said.

He was far from the only local to find amazement among the masses. The sizable crowd impressed the organizers.

“Honestly, I think what this weekend has taught us is that Minnesotans show up whether it’s the Final Four Friday, whether it’s a Fan Fest presented by Capital One, they’re here and they are so excited,” said Maggie Habashy, with the Final Four Organizing Committee.

“Not even our team made it, but we’re still out here celebrating everybody,” Ferguson added.

Festivities on Nicollet and the Fan Fest go on through Monday night.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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