MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In just a matter of days, Loring Park will transform into a colorful and welcoming celebration for the Twin Cities Pride Festival. Organizers expect 300 to 400 thousand people will attend over the weekend.

Darcie Baumann is the festival’s board chair. While she’s excited for the weekend’s entertainment she says she’s just as glad to have an added level of safety in light of the recent spike of opioid overdoses across the metro.

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“Addiction has no boundaries and it’s not only addiction. We’re in a celebration. Sometimes people try things they normally wouldn’t,” Baumann said. “We want to be realistic about it and make sure everybody goes home safely.”

That’s why the Pride Safety Team, many of them from organization Southside Harm Reduction Services, will be at the festival. They will be equipped with Naloxone, often known as Narcan, which reverses the effects of opioids.

“The people with Narcan will also have radios and be available to get a hold of EMT’s if there’s another emergency, or if they absolutely need to,” Baumann said.

To contact the Pride Safety Team, people are asked to call (612) 255-3265 or text (612) 516-3036. The dispatch area at the festival will receive the calls or texts and send team members to the location where they’re needed.

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Police and paramedics will also be on hand, but Baumann said the Pride Safety Team might better reach some in the LGBTQ community.

“Some of our trans folks, they have valid issues with EMT’s as far as care is concerned,” she said. “We would hate to see someone not get help because of concern.”

A report by National Geographic explains that some transgender people experience prejudice or feel some medical professionals lack experience when it comes to trans-specific treatment.

Baumann said the Minneapolis Police Department is aware of the Pride Safety Team’s efforts. A spokesperson for the MPD said they encourage people to dial 911 in case of an emergency.

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As well as contacting the Pride Safety Team, Baumann encourages people to stop one of the many festival volunteers if they’re in need of help.

Jeff Wagner