City of Lakes Loppet Festival moving to Wirth Parkby Rupa Shenoy, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The annual City of Lakes Loppet Festival in Minneapolis is moving from Uptown to Theodore Wirth Park just one week before the event is set to begin, organizers said Saturday.
Recent snowfall has weakened ice and created puddles around the Chain of Lakes, said John Munger, an organizer of the annual cross-country ski festival. Wirth Park in north Minneapolis has been on standby as a backup location since it has artificial snow.
The event's biggest attraction is the Luminary Loppet, which last year drew 6,000 people, Munger said.
"We're planning to do the Luminary Loppet this year where people are going to be hiking, [because] the ski trails are a little too hard for Grandma and Grandpa who do the Luminary Loppet, and we can then take them back on single-track trails through the woods that we think is going to give a really intimate feel," he said.
Organizers are still trying to figure out how to move about 1,200 luminaries to Wirth Park.
Between 40,000 to 50,000 people attended the festival last year, Munger said, so the biggest challenge in moving will be finding enough parking in north Minneapolis. But he said he's glad to bring attention to the area.
"That's, I think, going to be a powerful thing to bring kinda the whole Twin Cities Minnesota community into a really positive focus on Wirth Park, especially after six or eight months ago now we had the tornado rip through there," Munger said. "So kinda flip that on it's head and have people say 'Wow this is a great resource over here.'"