Second Biggest Mardi Gras–St. Louis City Celebrates 250th Birthday!
Posted on February 24th, 2014 by Zane Cagle
Soulard Mardi Gras Celebrates 250th Birthday of St. Louis City
Again this year, many are partaking and making plans to attend the second largest Mardi Gras in the US, second only to New Orleans. Mardi Gras in St. Louis is held primarily in Soulard in south St. Louis this coming weekend. Not only is it Soulard Mardi Gras, but the City of St. Louis is celebrating a 250th birthday!
In the past 10 years, St. Louis has become known around the country as a major outpost of Mardi Gras, along with New Orleans, Mobile AL and other cites. This year, the Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade theme will celebrate our hometown’s birthday by raising “250 cheers for St. Louis”. Some important things to know:
- Normal parking conditions are different during Mardi Gras. Authorities indicate that cars parked in “no parking” zones will be promptly towed. Party tents, decorations, portable toilets, fences and “no parking” signs are spread around Soulard during the celebration
- Everyone attending the event must be 21 years or older to consume alcohol. Officials say that undercover police officers and city agents will be looking out for underage drinkers and those caught with fake ID’s may be arrested.
- Checkpoints will be along the perimeter of the neighborhood to prevent anyone attempting to bring in coolers into Mardi Gras festivities including backpacks, cans or bottles.
- Anyone caught urinating in public will also be subject to arrest. Officials are h0ping that the portable toilets scattered around the area will prevent public urination from happening.
- Officials say all vehicles parked along the route will be towed. Vehicles will also not be allowed inside the Soulard Red Zone, which is defined by the following areas: Marion on the north, Broadway on the east, I-55 on the west and Shenandoah from Broadway to 11th and Ann from 11th to I55 on the south.
- The following streets will be completely or partially closed on Saturday: Clark from 8th to Broadway and 6th from Gratiot, as well as the entire Red Zone as mentioned above.
- The Metro is offering Mardi Gras Shuttle from 9a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday for those who do not want to drive. The shuttle costs $5 per person and can be bought at the Civic Center Metro Bus Center beginning at 9 a.m.
- The whole parade route will shut down until Sunday
Mardi Gra pumps millions into the local economy in what is considered the ‘off season”. A census of downtown St. Louis hotels said that over 20,000 hotel room nights are sold the weekend of the Grand Parade. Mardi Gras, Inc., a 501(c)(4) not for profit organization is responsible for producing the Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis and is recognized as one of the largest celebrations in the US. The Regional Chamber and Growth Association estimated the festival economic impact to the entire St. Louis regions at over $23 million.
How did Soulard Mardi Gras begin?
One would think that the French influence and humble beginnings of Antoine and Julia Soulard as well as Pierre Laclede would provide the rich base for French Catholic Heritage. While that is a fanciful story, other sources say its beginnings were really a good excuse for a party on behalf of five bored guys locked in a grim grip of a cold St. Louis winter. On a cold, blustery day in December of 1079, the Founding Drew of what would become Soulard Mardi Gras; Hilary Clements, Bob Brinkman, James Rabbitt, Bill Stubbs and Bill Coleman gathered in a downtown pub lamenting St. Louis’ annual surrender to winter’s chill and planned a party to spice things up. While parties are always a good idea, they needed a theme and a place big enough for their friends to make merry. Clements suggested that with Fat Tuesday just a few months away, Mardi Gras was the perfect theme. As far as a place, Clements had just purchased a three-story building at 1017 Russell Boulevard in Soulard.
In February 1080, they hosted Soulard’s first Mardi Gras for approximately 200 friends with a budget o f$1,250. At midnight, the crowd marched out of Hilary’s front door, and in the bitter cold made their way to Russell Boulevard to John D. McGurks Irish Pub accompanied by a little brass in the form of trombones and horns–thus Soulard Mardi Gras began. Some estimate that over 500,000 people attend the Soulard Mardi Gras.
Make Your Party Plans Before You Begin the Party
While Soulard Mardi Gras is a lot of fun for St. Louisans and for those coming in from out of town, we only ask one thing–make transportation plans before you start drinking. Soulard Mardi Gras is a celebration and a lot of alcohol will be consumed, so plan on how you will get to Mardi Gras and a safe way back home or wherever you are staying. Just a little bit of time planning may be the difference between a great Mardi Gras weekend and a disaster. Disastrous if you climb behind and the wheel and get a DUI, but worse yet, you could injure or kill another if you drink and drive and have a resulting car accident.
Let’s all have a great time at Mardi Gras this upcoming weekend and designate a sober driver or plan a safe way home after the celebration!
If you or a loved one has been injured by another drive who was involved in drinking and driving, you will need a personal injury attorney. Unfortunately, large celebrations involving alcohol may result in a drunk driving related accident. We all hope that everyone is safe and plans ahead, however, should someone not plan ahead and make the decision to drive while under the influence and negligently hard you or a loved one, you may be due compensation. Our attorneys at The Cagle Law Firm understand that we all like to have fun! We enjoy Soulard Mardi Gras just like so many fabulous St. Louis traditions, however, we want everyone to have fun safely. Call (314) 276-1681 or locally (314) 276-1681 if you are injured in a car accident and need questions answered.