In 2004, the Twin Cities got its first light rail line—the Blue Line—which serves 19 stations between Minneapolis and Bloomington, making it pretty easy for residents and visitors get around that side of the river. The only problem? It left out St. Paul. That problem is now one of the past, as the new Green Line opens this weekend, doubling the size of the line and, more importantly, finally connecting Minneapolis with St. Paul. The METRO line, whose first service begins at 10 a.m. on June 14, encompasses 23 stations (five shared with the Blue Line), running from Target Field to Union Depot.
As you can expect, this is a pretty big deal around here—and people are ready to celebrate. Besides free rides on all Metro Transit services this weekend—buses, METRO lines and Northstar commuter trains—there will also be free celebrations taking place at nine of the METRO stations. Here’s the low-down on the action:
Union Depot Station: The official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place here, with speakers including Governor Mark Dayton, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and Mayors Chris Coleman and Betsy Hodges. After, MPR’s The Current stage will host performers, plus there will be a scavenger hunt, kid-friendly activities, an appearance by the Saint Paul Saint’s mascot and a character from TPT and PBS, dance performances, food trucks and more.
Target Field Station: Enjoy live music from bands like the Okemah Prophets, Pistol Whippin Party Penguins and New Primitives, and food from Warehouse District and North Loop restaurants including Kieran’s, Smack Shack and J.D. Hoyt’s. The Lynx, Twins and Target’s mascots will all be in attendance, too.
West Bank Station: More food and music, including eats from neighborhood spots, food trucks and deals at local restaurants, plus music and theater group performances from Cadillac Kolstad, Sandbox Theater and Apollo Quad.
Stadium Village Station: This one’s a sports-themed party. The Minnesota Vikings are sending their cheerleaders, an inflatable field goal kick and touchdown toss, while Goldy the Gopher will be there to share in on the fun, and tours of TCF Bank Stadium will be offered. There will also be music from DJ Chico Brown and KS95, food from Dairy Queen and The Commons Hotel, and a business expo.
Raymond Avenue Station: See demonstrations from talents from the Textile Center, Open Eye Figure Theater, Nordeast Makers and more, snack on bites from food trucks, and view performances from Joy to the People and Mill City Ballroom. You can also explore breweries, retro shopping spots, and local entertainment, art and activities via a circulator trolley.
Hamline Avenue Station: Here you’ll find “The Great Midway Get-Together.” This fair-themed station includes Grandstand performances, a Midway marketplace, Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, the Minnesota Children’s Museum and Twin City Model Railroad Museum at the Kidway, and, of course, plenty of food.
Victoria Street Station: This block party-esque celebration will include bicycle activities, the St. Paul Almanac Storymobile, chair massages, art activities, performances by local cultural and music groups, and showings of documentaries.
Western Avenue Station: Explore Little Mekong, with music and theater group performances, food from neighborhood spots like Lao Thai, Royal Bangkok and Mai Village, plus cultural activities like kite and lantern making, face painting, and community art projects.
Central Station: Play the artist-designed Skyway Open mini golf course (spans from Central Station to Union Depot), enjoy live music from Tim Mahony, a Broadway Songbook performance from the Ordway, and more.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Summit Brewing Company is hosting an Off the Rails Pub Crawl, with 11 stops in Minneapolis and St. Paul offering $4 Summits at multiple pubs within walking distance. The crawl begins at 4 p.m.—you can join at any pub at any point—and then meet in the middle of the two cities at The Dubliner (Raymond Avenue Station) to conclude at 10 p.m. Click here to see participating stops and pubs.
If you can’t make it this weekend—or even if you can—check out this handy list of five gems to see at stops along the line.