The Minneapolis Aquatennial announced today that 2019 James Beard Award winner Ann Kim and Minnesota United midfielder Darwin Quintero will be the 2019 CenterPoint Torchlight Parade Grand Marshals as the Aquatennial celebrates its 80th year.

Kim, the chef/owner of Young Joni and Pizzeria Lola in Minneapolis and Hello Pizza in Edina, and Quintero, who led the Loons in goals last season and was the team’s first Designated Player when he arrived from Club America of Liga MX in 2018, will lead this year’s edition of the largest nighttime parade in Minnesota. It will take place Wednesday, July 24 beginning at 8:30 pm and run down 2nd Avenue from the Minneapolis Convention Center to 3rd Street.

“Every year, our company looks forward to the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade because of the opportunity to celebrate, support and show appreciation for the communities we serve each day,” said Brad Tutunjian, CenterPoint Energy division vice president of Gas Operations in Minnesota. “It has been an honor to sponsor this fun-filled event for 19 consecutive years, and it’s our hope that everyone can join in celebrating on July 24.”

As part of its 80th year, Aquatennial is celebrating some of our community’s best stories of 2019 throughout its four days. Kim represents our local culinary excellence through the success of her local restaurants and her 2019 James Beard Award, while Quintero embodies the energy and vibe of the Loons and their newly-opened Allianz Field.

Kim and her restaurants are revered and nationally-recognized. Most recently, in 2019, she received the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Midwest.” Young Joni was named the 2017 Best New Restaurant in America by GQ and Eater, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune named Young Joni its 2017 Restaurant of the Year.

A Korean immigrant, she credits her culinary palate to helping her mother and grandmother at an early age make traditional staples such as fermented bean paste and kimchi. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York’s Columbia University, where her sustenance often came in the form of a daily cheese pizza slice from a fair number of corner pizza shops. These formative pizza-eating years laid the foundation for her dream to someday bring great pizza to Minnesota, and her years as a freelance actor fostered her value of creativity, the art of the hustle and storytelling.

“I am honored to be a Grand Marshal of this year’s Aquatennial CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade,” Kim said. “Each year, Aquatennial brings thousands of people to our city as a way to celebrate what makes Minneapolis special. I look forward to sharing in the events that bring our city’s tradition and future together in such a fun way.”

Quintero boasts immense speed and intelligence with the ball at his feet. A Tumaco, Colombia, native, Quintero joined Minnesota United in March 2018 as the club’s first Designated Player. Quintero made an immediate impact for Minnesota, scoring a goal in his first appearance on April 14 against the Portland Timbers. In July, he scored six goals and provided six assist in six games, one of the best single months in league history. Quintero had a seven-game point streak in August and closed out the season with a team-leading 11 goals and team record 15 assists. He began his professional career with Deportes Tolima in his native country in 2005 and has played internationally with the Colombia national team as well as for teams based in Colombia and Mexico.

“It has been such a great year for our club, and the community has made Allianz Field an unbelievable place to play,” Quintero said. “I’m honored to represent Minnesota United at the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and hope our fans will bring their enthusiasm out to join me at Aquatennial.”

In addition, K102’s Chris Carr & Company morning show crew will be back to emcee this year’s CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade.

The CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade, along with fellow flagship event Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 27 at 10 p.m., book-end four jam-packed days of Aquatennial featuring more than two dozen free and family-friendly events.

This year’s Target Fireworks will pay tribute to the Aquatennial’s 80th year by syncing the fireworks display to 80s music. The pyro-musical is choreographed to match every beat with the display itself.

“This year’s Aquatennial brings together our annual favorites with new traditions that really speak to the spirit of Minneapolis,” said Leah Wong, vice president of external relations, mpls downtown council. “Whether you want to see the downtown skyline from the top of a Ferris Wheel or watch local restaurants compete in a fry dish contest, this year’s new events bridge the history of our city with the creativity and trends of today’s Minneapolis. Join us and enjoy events for all ages, abilities and interests at the 2019 Aquatennial.”

Aquatennial’s lineup will feature two dozen events, featuring new and enhanced features that will make this year’s 80th celebration a must-see. This year’s lineup includes:

  • An expanded and enhanced celebration along the Mississippi Riverfront leading up to the Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 27. From 4-10 pm, enjoy views from atop a Ferris Wheel, a Family Fun Zone, food trucks, local craft beers, live music, a 50-vendor Mpls Craft Market and AquaJam skateboarding at West River Parkway near the Stone Arch Bridge.
  • Frey’s Fry Throwdown at Aquatennial is a new event on Friday, July 26 from 12-1 pm #OnNicollet between 9th and 10th Playing off Mayor Jacob Frey’s dynamically delicious name and our city’s culinary creativity, local restaurants will develop a new French Fry-based dish that will be taste-tested by a panel of judges. Restaurants include Constantine, Crave, Devil’s Advocate, Fulton Taproom Kitchen, The Bird, The Local, The Newsroom and Red Cow.
  • The Life Time Torchlight 5K After Party is open to the public on Wednesday, July 24 at Boom Island. The event will include music, food, beverages and incredible views of the Minneapolis skyline across the river. No need to run the race, just stop by and celebrate.
  • The Aquatennial Blood Drive returns in partnership with the American Red Cross on July 24-26 from 9 am-3 pm at IDS Center. Sign up in advance at aquatennial.com/events or walk-in the day of to give blood and help save a life.

For those looking to take part in Aquatennial, the Aquatennial Volunteers Program is now accepting sign-ups. Volunteers will be in the heart of the Aquatennial action and will also receive a t-shirt, Skyline Specs sunglasses, access to the Target Fireworks private viewing area and more. Visit www.aquatennial.com/volunteers for more information.

Aquatennial goers can get to the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and the Target Fireworks by bus or light rail for FREE thanks to Metro Transit’s free ride pass. From 4 p.m. to midnight on Wednesday, July 24 and Saturday, July 27, riders can ride Metro Transit for free by printing a pass—Wednesday’s pass will be available at www.aquatennial.com/torchlightparade and Saturday’s pass will available at www.aquatennial.com/fireworks as we get closer to the events.

The Aquatennial has also partnered with the City of Minneapolis to bring Tap Minneapolis water fountains to the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade. These water stations will be available along 2nd Avenue during the CenterPoint Energy Torchlight Parade and Life Time Torchlight 5K as well as in Loring Park at the Pre-Parade Family Fun Night on Wednesday, July 24, and they will also be placed along West River Parkway during the Target Fireworks on Saturday, July 27. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own water bottles to the events to refill at the Tap Minneapolis fountains.

Aquatennial’s full schedule, guide, sign-up links, Skipper Pin sales and more will be available at www.aquatennial.com leading up to the events.