Red ribbons were tied to trees in front of the governor's mansion and neighbors mowed their lawns Saturday as Minnesotans made last-minute preparations for Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's historic visit.
Tom Knutson, part of a five-member crew installing a barricade across the street from the mansion, said he didn't mind working overtime to prepare for Sunday. "It's great; it's once-in-a-lifetime," said Knutson, 52.The 1,800 feet to 2,000 feet of fence will be used to confine reporters and photographers to an area across the street from the mansion, where Gorbachev and his wife, Raisa, are to dine with Gov. Rudy Perpich and his wife, Lola.
According to the unofficial itinerary, the Soviets are to arrive at 1:25 p.m. Sunday. After landing at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, they are to travel by motorcade to the mansion, eat lunch and take a limousine tour of the Twin Cities.
Orange- and white-striped highway barricades were in place along the route to the state Capitol, which is expected to be on the tour. Yellow rope to hold back the thousands of people hoping to get a glimpse of the visitors was waiting to be hoisted.
At the mansion, red ribbons were tied to trees in front and "No Parking" signs were everywhere. A yellow-and-black portable highway sign saying "Welcome" in Russian and English hung over I-94 between St. Paul and Minneapolis, where Gorbachev is to meet with 145 business and agricultural leaders while Mrs. Gorbachev visits a Minneapolis family.
The entire group is expected to tour a dairy farm in Farmington about 20 miles south of Minneapolis and Control Data Corp. in suburban Bloomington. The Soviets are to depart for San Francisco at 8 p.m.