For the second weekend in a row, St. Paul is the coolest place to be. The 131st Winter Carnival continues with a full slate of activities, some of which will bring street closures and put Metro Transit routes on detour. Adding to the crowds heading to the capital city is the North Star College Cup tournament Friday and Saturday at the Xcel Energy Center.

Weather should not impact fans heading to Twinsfest at Target Field or the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships continue Friday through Sunday on Lake Nokomis will generate extra traffic in Minneapolis. The sports scene also includes a Timberwolves game Saturday night at Target Center and the Gophers men's basketball team hosting Maryland at Williams Arena Saturday afternoon.

U.S. Bank Stadium hosts the Home and Remodling Show Friday through Sunday.

Up north,motorists will encounter slow or stopped traffic on both directions of Hwy. 371 between Brainerd/Baxter and Nisswa as the road is reduced to a single lane and flaggers control traffic from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. That's due to increased traffic llevels and shuttle buses that will be used for the Brainerd Jaycees Ice Fishing Extravaganza on Hole in the Day Bay on Gull Lake.

Locally, Hwy. 169 is still closed in both directions between Bren Road and Lincoln Drive as MnDOT continues a bridge demolition project. That is with us until October.

Winter Carnival

More than 250,000 people take in events associated with the "Coolest Celebration on Earth," which just happens to be the nation's largest and oldest winter party. Two events that will disrupt travel are the Securian Winter Run.Three races, a 5K, 10K and half marathon, get underway at 9 a.m. Saturday with the starting line at 6th and Jackson streets. Road closures include some downtown streets, Kellogg Boulevard and Shepard Road between downtown and Davern Street.

Traffic will be prohibited on W. 7th Street between the Smith Avenue High Bridge and Rice Park downtown during the always festive McDonald's Grand Mac Parade. Things step off at 2 p.m. Saturday, but look for roads to be blocked off prior to the the start.

Metro Transit will provide free rides to the parade and other festivities between noon and 10 p.m., but you'll have to download a pass. A number of routes will be on detour most of the day Saturday due to the running races and the parade. Be sure to read signs posted at bus stops in downtown St. Paul to find out where to catch your bus back home. You can also check the rider alert page.

Pond Hockey

The biggest issue with the outdoor hockey event "the way nature intended" - on a lake - will be parking, and a traffic change on Lake Nokomis Parkway. The road will be converted to a one-way from 4 p.m. Thursday through 6 p.m. Sunday.  Traffic will move clockwise around the lake between Cedar Avenue at the north end of the lake and Derby Avenue at the south end of the lake. Traffic will remain two-way west of Cedar and Derby.

Parking will be restriced to the left side of the road.  And since the usual parking location -nearby softball fields - will be unavailable, event organizers are asking players and spectators to "please carpool, if you can, to create a better parking experience for all Lake Nokomis visitors."

Twinsfest

The boys of summer attempt to drum up optimism for the upcoming season with the three-day event at Target Field. At least the return of baseball means spring isn't far away. Autograph sessionis and the new beer garden might be reason enough to stop by between 4 and 9:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday. 

Be on the lookout for baseball fans walking to the stadium. Parking is available across the street of the city-run ramp on 7th Street. The nearest rail stop is right outside the stadium. Metro Transit routes 5, 22 and 19 stop right outside Target Field. Metro Transit has free rides to the event, but you'll need a pass.

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