St. Louis Mardi Gras 2019

Welcome to the world’s second largest Mardi Gras festival, reflecting the city’s French heritage.  This year, as usual, it will not be warm.  There will be a lot of the shenanigans that occur every year.  I’m sure there will be many arrests as well; don’t worry, I will not be among those who are.  This year is extra special for me, as Saturday March 2nd is my girlfriend’s 30th birthday.  She is unaware of the birthday festivities that will be taking place.  She knows that there will be a party, but she thinks it will only be a Mardi Gras party.  She is unaware that her family is coming in town to surprise her for her big day.  I can’t wait. 

Mardi Gras season in St. Louis officially began on January 6th, 2019 celebrating the 12th night after Christmas. “The night kicks off with our Board of Directors converging in a cozy corner of Soulard to decide whether to order the commencement of Mardi Gras, while local leaders, politicians and krewes petition with their best performances and bribes of liquid refreshment. The board votes after a heated and often raucous debate, and then makes the official proclamation that we will have yet another Mardi Gras season in Soulard. So far throughout the decades that we’ve hosted Mardi Gras, the board has voted unanimously in favor of Mardi Gras, luckily for us. After that, our collection of party pros and dignitaries marches throughout the Soulard neighborhood, crowning that year’s Mardi Gras Rex and then christening and raising the Mardi Gras flag to fly proudly over the Soulard neighborhood throughout the Mardi Gras season” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/12th-night).  I couldn’t imagine a year where they did not vote to have the Mardi Gras Festivities.  I can only imagine the income that the weekend generates for all the local businesses.

There are other activities that happen during January, like a softball game and a family Winter Carnival.  But the real season, in my mind starts in late February.  Ok, well, the middle of February when there was a Cajun Cook-Off on February 16th.  This year, you were able to “Learn the secrets of Cajun cooking from the best chefs in St. Louis, Mike Johnson and Christina Fitzgerald, whose culinary roots are connected to New Orleans, then taste the subject matter of the most delicious lesson you’ll ever learn as they hand out samples. These cooking demos of authentic Creole cuisine will be taking place all day long as highly talented amateur chefs from across the area face off, preparing their best dishes to be sampled by a panel of hungry and highly discerning judges (http://stlmardigras.org/events/cajun-cook-off).  I wish I had known this was going on, as I would have gone for sure.  My mouth is already starting to water thinking about the food.  My Mardi Gras experience started last weekend with the Taste of Soulard and it was a great experience in which to participate.  Before Taste of Soulard officially began, there was the Missouri Lottery 5K Run for your Beads.  “There is only one race that is as fun-filled, colorful and slightly wacky as Mardi Gras:  The Missouri Lottery 5K Run for Your Beads. That means you’ll enjoy all the fun and historic scenery of Soulard with mid-race pitstops stocked with beer and hurricanes for legally aged runners. Make sure to dress in your best Mardi Gras garb, because in addition to prizes for the winners of each division, we’ll be honoring the runner with the best costume” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/5k-run-for-your-beads).  I am definitely not a runner, so I did not participate in the 5K, maybe next year; I better start training now.  I did have a friend run in it and then continue the day at the Taste of Soulard.  My day started out eating tacos and having a few drinks for breakfast then strolling through the neighborhood sampling the many tastings of the area.  I would definitely recommend going to this event.  “This self-guided tasting and pub crawl allows you to choose your own adventure through the many Cajun flavors that you will find throughout Soulard. Each purchase includes one drink voucher and six food vouchers that can be redeemed at any of the participating establishments. On Saturday, the world-famous Soulard Trolley Tramps will be shuttling merrymakers to restaurants throughout the neighborhood” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/taste-of-soulard).  There was a lot of great food and drinks and crazy people to see strolling down the street.  I ran into a few old friends that I hadn’t seen in at least a year.  We listened to some great music and thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Although the February events were fun, and a joy to be a part of, the big day, this year, is Saturday, March 2nd.  That is the day of the parade and the big festival.  “This event is the crown jewel of the Soulard Mardi Gras season and is the biggest parade outside of the Big Easy. It begins at Busch Stadium and proceeds through the streets of Downtown South and Soulard to the place where your beer was born: Anheuser-Busch Brewery.  This year’s theme is “40 Years of Magic, Music, and Memories”. Help us celebrate a century of this St. Louis institution as krewes ride nearly 100 floats that bring to life 1980, or 1981, or 1982, or 1983, or 1984, or 1985, or 1986, or 1987, or 1988, or 1989, or 1990,…and throw over 10,000,000 strands of beads to the throngs of Mardi Gras revelers lining the parade route” (http://stlmardigras.org/events/bud-light-grand-parade).   This is the day where there is a lot of alcohol flowing, a lot of great food stands, and a lot of beads.  I don’t think I could adequately describe the experience of going down to Soulard for the day.  Yes, it’ll be cold, but that won’t stop the party.  This year will be more fun, as there is another reason to celebrate.

As disclosed previously, that Saturday is my girlfriend’s 30th birthday and there are surprises in store for her.  Her parents and brother are driving down from Michigan on Friday to surprise her.  She knows that my parents will be coming over Friday night for dinner but is unaware of the other guests.  I told her that I will be making dinner, I’ll be smoking some chickens, making mashed potatoes (her favorite), and probably sautéing some green beans or other vegetables.  It’ll be great.  She just told me that she is planning on going to the gym after work on Friday and was wondering when my parents were going to come over.  I gave her a ballpark time, but I truly hope that her family will be there when she gets home.  Oops, I just remembered that I have to clean the house for their arrival.  Saturday morning she’ll be in for a bigger surprise.  She knows that our friends are throwing a Mardi Gras party with a little bit of birthday thrown in, but she doesn’t realize the number of her friends that have been invited and are planning on meeting up with us.  She is completely misguided on the ratio of Mardi Gras to Birthday party.  It is going to be awesome.  The best part truly is her family coming in though.  She has really been stressing out about when they can come in for her birthday.  Her mom and I were struggling to come up with excuses. 

I hope you learned a lot about how Mardi Gras is celebrated in St. Louis.  You should definitely come try it out sometime and have the full experience.  I like to think it’s a once in a lifetime experience, except it happens every year.  I need to go down to New Orleans sometime to see how they compare.  I don’t doubt that New Orleans’ Mardi Gras is even crazier, as its probably warmer there during the festivities.  Thank you for listening to my story, and I hope you continue to follow me.  I hope you have a great day and let’s go see some houses.

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