Life of the Mardi (Gras)

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Show me your… beads. Mardi Gras is coming up and it is a huge celebration in the St. Louis community. Mardi Gras is a festival that technically marks the end of the carnival season. It always occurs the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which is when lent begins.

Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, Feb. 28, but festivities will take place in Soulard all day February 25 to celebrate the holiday.

The first event of the day is a parade, which starts at 11 a.m. This is one of the largest Mardi Gras parades in the Midwest. It begins at Busch Stadium and runs all the way to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. More than 100 floats line the streets and more than 10,000,000 beads will be given out to those watching the parade.

The second component of the celebration is a party in the streets of Soulard. This will include drinks, music, friends, fun and of course, lots of beads. The street party lasts all day and into the early hours Sunday morning.

Bryant Webster, junior marketing major, is excited to watch the parade this year and attend the party, having heard that St. Louis offers one of the best celebrations in the country. “I know I used to go to the parade when I was younger and it’s always a good choice,” Webster said.

Webster said that he plans on spending the whole day in Soulard exploring and seeing different aspects of the celebration and neighborhood. “It’s a lot of fun seeing what your city has to offer for big holiday celebrations,” Webster said.

The parade is an event that is open to a variety of age groups, but the celebration to follow is only available for individuals who are older than 21. Webster will be experiencing the full party for the first time this weekend.

Daulton Westcott, junior marketing major, will also have his first experience at Mardi Gras this Saturday. “Bryant and I plan on getting up at 6 a.m. and getting started early,” Westcott said. He plans to start a fun afternoon with the most important event, the parade.

Westcott mentioned that he wants to “get lost in the crowd and enjoy the day.” He is ready to party all day then get a hotel close to the celebration.

St. Louis knows how to celebrate in many aspects when it comes to Mardi Gras. On Sunday, February 19, thousands of dogs and other pets in costumes lined the streets of Soulard for the Beggin’ Pet Parade. This is the largest costumed pet parade in the entire world.

This camel enjoys the warm weather at the pet parade. Photo courtesy of Tanner Butler.

If you can’t go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, St. Louis is the next best place to be. If you are 21 or older, head down to Soulard on February 25 and enjoy a day of fun.

Photo courtesy of Tanner Butler.

Fun facts about Mardi Gras:

  • Mardi Gras is also known as “pancake day”
  • Beads have been part of the holiday since the early 1900s
  • The colors of Mardi Gras are gold, green and purple. Gold signifies power, green signifies faith and purple signifies justice.
  • Rio de Janeiro is home to the biggest Mardi Gras celebration in the world, not New Orleans.
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