It's not just a game, it's a carnival. The curtain rose Sunday on three days of All-Star Game hoopla, complete with celebrity horses, civil disobedience and foods that could both cause and cure a hangover. Here's a sampling from Day 1.
All that's new to eat
It's called "a meal in a cup,'' which it might be if vodka were among the five food groups. The Bigger, Better Burger, Brat or Bacon Bloody Mary — one of four new food items debuting at Target Field during the All-Star Game — is not a ballpark snack for the faint of heart.
Along with the usual pickles and olives, the $18 concoction tops off the skewer with a slider, a mini-brat or a hearty slice of bacon. Tums are not included, but a small beer is. The stand located just inside Gate 14 cranks them out assembly-line style and attracted a steady flow of adventurous eaters and drinkers Sunday.
Other new foods: a brat stuffed with a hot dog, a burger topped with a fried egg and a brat/Polish sausage combo. The new beer-vending machines attracted as many gawkers as buyers, with a constant stream of people taking pictures and video of other people buying beer.
Clydesdales take the field
Each of them goes by a single name, like the superstars they are. The Budweiser Clydesdales — Mick, Curly, Evan, Ace, King, Prince, Fire, Duke and Bud, of course — drew hundreds of visitors to see them get gussied up for Sunday's public appearance, when they paraded down First Avenue and around the perimeter of Target Field.
A crew of seven is tending to the horses in their temporary stable in the Pepsi Block Party area, which occupies the parking lot behind Gluek's at First Avenue and Fifth Street. The public can visit the Clydes from noon to 7 p.m. each day. They will take the field again before Tuesday's All-Star Game. On Sunday they got a police bicycle escort on their way to the ballpark, and even the officers couldn't resist taking pictures with them.
Protesters say it with chalk
They may be serious, but that doesn't mean Michelle Gross and her fellow protesters lack a sense of humor. Among the slogans they wrote on sidewalks near Target Field with colored chalk: "No Spying In Baseball'' and "RBIs are better than the FBI.''
Gross and her friends were protesting the "clean zone'' established around the ballpark, which restricts signage and commercial activity. They expressed their opinions on police brutality, free speech and other issues via chalk and handmade signs. "We can't have the city signing away our First Amendment rights,'' said Gross, as she and her group mingled with the ticket scalpers on a bustling corner outside First Avenue.
They did not attract any attention from the police, who were out in full force Sunday on foot, on bikes and on horses. At one point, there were nine of them checking out the Chevy showroom that now occupies Sixth Street near the ballpark, which includes a giant beanbag toss.
What economic impact?
Not everyone is cashing in on the All-Star Game. Though Nicollet Mall was teeming Sunday with baseball fans, a singer/guitarist named Brett, playing in front of the IDS Center, said the increased traffic apparently didn't include patrons of the arts. "People are paying $80 for a shirt,'' he said, looking at the scant change in his bag. "You'd think they could chip in a couple bucks for music.''