MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s Minnesota second-biggest get together — and it almost didn’t happen.

But Twin Cities Pride will be back in full force this year after going virtual in 2020, and then downsizing in 2021.

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As WCCO found out, the LGBTQ celebration will be different than any before.

It’s a Twin Cities story that goes back half a century. Since 1972, people have celebrated their differences by coming together. It’s a tradition that COVID-19 nearly crushed.

“It was really terrifying,” said Felix Foster, board chair of Twin Cities Pride. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we were like, ‘Oh, if we don’t have a festival, we might not be an organization next year, so we really tried to rally and pull it together.”

They were able to piece the funding back together with fundraisers and virtual events, and this year they hope to be back, and big.

“My hope is that it’s one of the biggest, and just that everyone like is really excited to come back together,” Foster said.

It’s a professional mission for the board chair, but also personal. The St. Paul native remembers his first Pride as a teen.

“It felt freeing,” he said.

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(credit: CBS)

And that’s how he wants everyone to feel — everyone. It will be more inclusive than ever, and will include a sensory tent for people on the autism spectrum, more wheelchair access, and more American Sign Language interpreters than ever before.

“The LGBT community is such a specific thing that represents people in every other cross community, and so we want to make sure people feel comfortable being their whole selves,” Foster said.

So, they’re going big this year, with a full-out festival, and an anxious crowd.

“I had a blast when I went. Great outdoor fun in the sun,” said attendee Robert Priddy. “I’d be keen to go back.”

Foster says they need organizers and volunteers year-round.

“We are constantly looking for volunteers,” Foster said.

Pride activities will start earlier than ever this year. In May, there will be an art party, an outdoor family fest and more sober events.

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Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield