Well, I finally did it! Over the last few years I’ve been hearing about the awesome good time to be had every Fourth of July in Minneapolis with the Freedom from Pants Ride, but I haven’t had the chance to join the fun myself. Not unlike Improv Everywhere’s No Pants Subway Ride, a New York phenomenon which has spread to Minneapolis, the Freedom From Pants Ride is an irreverent celebration of American exuberance (not that other countries aren’t exuberant, of course!). For 2015, I jumped on the chance to join up and roll out with the crowd. As expressed by one of the many participants as he passed me on his bike, this is a great example of the wonderful “microcosm” of this city, a well kept secret of “coolness.” Why not go outside in your underwear during our few short months of heat? While Minnesotan inhibitions might not allow for anything more than just underwear for most of us (myself included), unlike some other cities, there was still plenty of transgressive American fun to be seen.
What better way to enjoy a hot summer day than by wearing as little as possible and riding your bike with a few hundred other people through the streets of downtown Minneapolis. As the procession of not fully clothed bicyclists let freedom ride throughout the city of Minneapolis, we responded to confused onlookers with cries of “Freedom!” and “Join Us!” Heading from Northeast Minneapolis, we crossed the Hennepin Avenue Bridge and rode towards Loring Park, whereupon fireworks were let off and dancing commenced. It’s a great feeling to be among such an eclectic and fun loving crowd, making a bit of a good-natured scene and presenting an aura of exuberance. Plus, it’s another fun thing to do that costs no money whatsoever (as long as you have, or can borrow, a bike).
Much ingenuity was presented as people towed mobile dj setups, including my friend, with his USS Sex Panther speaker system, a furry musical which attracted a lot of loving attention from onlookers. It was definitely an awesome piece of work to be riding next to, though he is promising to make it even more impressive next year.
After Loring Park, the hoard traversed the streets toward Uptown, waving to the many enthusiastic onlookers eating at restaurants or gathered in their backyard to take in the pre-fireworks show. Arriving at Cedar Lake, we cooled off in the crystal waters of one of the city’s best swimming beaches. As the sun, red through the haze of smoke from the Canadian wildfires sunk into the horizon, we relaxed in the cooling waters as the heat of the day mellowed. Finally, the call was given and the festivities continued back through downtown, a line of flashing lights and ringing bells, arriving at Nicollet Island to take in the city’s firework shows (and let off a few of their own as well, perhaps a little recklessly). On the way home, I grabbed some delicious frozen yogurt from one of the last remaining food trucks, Fro-Yo Soul and went home, exhausted but happy.
Really, I can’t think of any better way to spend the Fourth in Minneapolis. For next year, I would recommend taking lots of water (especially if you plan on having a drink along the way), and also make sure to pack out any garbage that you produce to keep the city nice and the reputation of the spectacle good as well. Check out the City Page’s account of the event, as well.