Amid the rainbow floats and tributes memorializing the Orlando massacre victims, expect to see more support from security — and the community — at this weekend’s Twin Cities Pride Festival than has been visible in the past.
The Orlando massacre on Latin night at a gay nightclub, followed by an Indiana man found with a cache of guns and explosives in his car on the way to the L.A. Pride festival, have rocked the local community and its sense of security. But the festival’s executive director, Dot Belstler, said organizers are working with city and park police to ensure that participants feel safe to toss confetti — if not their cares — to the wind.
Minneapolis park police Chief Jason Ohotto said the number of park officers will be increased, with 20 to 30 officers on duty over the weekend, up from a typical staff of 16 to 20. There will be more security measures behind the scenes, too, Ohotto said.
While Minneapolis Police Department spokesperson Scott Seroka couldn’t discuss security plans — “We don’t like to let people use [plans] for the wrong purpose” — he said the police are working with fest planners to have a “visible, significant and robust presence.”
As usual, the festival also has hired a private security firm to work alongside police and its safety volunteers, although this year the focus is likely to change. “In the past, most of our safety and security team time was spent on actually protecting our protesters,” Belstler said.
By coincidence, the 2016 National Sheriffs’ Association annual conference and exhibition also is in town this weekend, informally boosting the number of law enforcement personnel.
While some people still might choose to stay home this year out of concern, Belstler said, none of the hundreds of vendors or parade groups have pulled out.
“I’ve had more people come to say, ‘I want to have a booth in the park. I want to be there. I want to show my support,’ ” Belstler said.
Here are a few of this year’s events:
Kathy Griffin: After starting the show with “sort of a soap box moment,” Emmy and Grammy Award-winning comedian Kathy Griffin plans to ask her audience to shelve the sadness for an evening of her trademark lewdness. (8 p.m. Thu., Orchestra Hall. $45-$99) “I asked a gay friend of mine what he would like to see if he were in the audience that night, and his response was, ‘Be as fearlessly funny as you have ever been and remind us of who we are,’ ” Griffin said. “That’s what I’m going to do.”
Flip Phone: Four dance parties in four venues flipping back to pre-iPhone playlists, pitting pop stars against one another and bringing in special guests, such as RuPaul’s Naomi Smalls. One $35 ticket gets admission into all events, starting Thursday at Honey and ending Sunday at Crave restaurant.
Pride Night at the Saints: If glitter and blaring techno won’t do, check out the fest’s first official sports partnership. The St. Paul Saints will wear rainbow uniforms, donating proceeds from the auction of the jerseys. The game against the Winnipeg Goldeyes will be followed by a fireworks show set to Queen songs (7:05 p.m. Fri. $7-$18, CHS Field, St. Paul).
Beer Dabbler: Fifty local breweries will offer brews honoring LGBT icons and advocates against a backdrop of live music and food vendors at Loring Park (5:30-9:30 p.m. Fri. $20-$50).
Saloon Pride Weekend: There will be almost enough special guests at Saloon this weekend to fill a dance floor, including standouts of RuPaul alumni, veteran Twin City queens and singer-songwriter Jordin Sparks (Fri.-Sun., $20-$25. 830 Hennepin Av. S.).
Pride Parade: Starting at 3rd Street at 11 a.m. Sun., about 130 groups and floats will make their way down Hennepin Avenue S. to Spruce Place. Donations will be collected for victims of the Orlando shooting. Marchers plan to carry pictures of the victims, followed by Latin dancers. “We have to dance,” Belstler said. “That’s what we need to do to celebrate their lives.”