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BEST PARADE Minneapolis 1999 -

There just aren't as many places as there used to be where you can simultaneously catch a few rays, Barbara Carlson dressed in sequins, and a drag queen driving a scooter. Thank goodness for the parade that puts an exclamation point on the annual Minneapolis Pride Festival. Sponsored by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride/Twin Cities, the event, scheduled this year for June 27, draws up to 125,000 Twin Citians, rain or shine. Marchers run the gamut from the raunchy (say, a flatbed packed with tasty-looking young men dancing in thong bikinis) to the Ozzie and Harriet (like, f'rinstance, the Birkenstock-clad members of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). Other participants--and their pets--dye themselves the color of the pride flag before taking to the streets. Miss Richfield (if you have to ask, you're too square for this event) can always be counted on to greet watchers up and down the Hennepin Avenue parade route, while nary a local political hopeful dares miss this particular chance to press some flesh. (Okay, maybe Rod Grams misses it.) Be sure to build in enough time before or after the parade to take in the block party, which changes location from year to year but always takes place somewhere near the parade route. And consider checking out St. Paul's Capital City Pride celebration, held the weekend before.

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