MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thousands of people will be in Minneapolis this week for the annual Pride Festival. Minnesota is home to one of the largest Pride celebrations in the country.

It takes about a week to turn Loring Park into what you see for Pride. What’s different this year is the location of the Pride Parade.

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“What’s different this year is do not go to Hennepin Avenue, we will not be there,” said Darcie Baumann, chair of the Twin Cities Pride Board.

Construction on one of the busiest streets downtown has caused organizers to move the Pride parade route. This year, the parade will start on 2nd Avenue at 3rd Street.

“It will go wrap around, go in front of the convention center and come back down right into Loring Park,” Baumann said.

Baumann says the length of the parade route is the same, only the location is different.

“If you want a great place to watch the parade, we actually have a grandstand set up right in front of the convention center,” Baumann said.

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Because of construction, traffic into and out of downtown Minneapolis can be challenging. Pride organizers hope people look to Metro Transit to get them to and from all the festivities.

“Metro Transit is offering a free pass on Sunday for the parade. You can get that, download that at our website tcpride.org,” Baumann said.

Pride’s website will also have specials with Uber and Lyft. What hasn’t changed is what people can expect when they arrive at the festival inside Loring Park.

“We have about 400 vendors, we have about 40 food vendors on top of that and we have four stages full of free music and entertainment all weekend,” Baumann said.

The area is well-marked with symbols that represent the LBGTQIA+ community. If you get a little turned around, just look for the rainbow to lead you.

“So you know where you’re going, follow the rainbow,” Baumann said.

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Pride weekend festivities begin Saturday at Loring Park. The parade starts at 11 a.m. This year’s celebration will honor the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.

Reg Chapman