Anyone who partakes in the season of Lent knows that it is a time of fasting and giving up your favorite things to enjoy. However, if you’re like me, you know that there are a couple of days before Lent that are the ones that really matter – Mardi Gras. For most, the celebration of Mardi Gras is always associated with the historic New Orleans parade, but for me I always think about the great city I was privileged enough to attend college in, St. Louis. This is a big shock to most and was for me as well coming from my hometown of Potomac, Maryland. Ranked the second best Mardi Gras parade in the US, St. Louis knows how to throw down for the famous French holiday. One can easily find endless amounts of beads, masquerade masks, mouthwatering food, and care free people.
Almost the entire city shuts down and joins in on the exciting festivities. The parade stretches out across the entire city, but the best spot to ensure a grand time is the historic area of Soulard. Enriched with old style French bars with an American twist, Soulard truly gives one the feeling that they are in New Orleans. Endless tents of food, beer gardens, and sponsored products fill the streets with live bands playing in the background.
Once you have gotten the feel for the overall parade, another aspect of the St. Louis area comes crashing in to make your overall experience even better, The Bud Light Grand Parade. The city of St. Louis is home to one of the largest beer companies in the world, Anheuser Busch, and the brewery lives up to its reputation with its very own sponsored display. The Bud Light Grand Parade begins just south of Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals play, and winds through the streets of Soulard to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. Mardi Gras Krewes from hundreds of floats will toss over thousands and thousands strands of beads and other sought-after goodies to celebratory masses gathered along the route. After the parade, the Bud Light Block Party, the High Heel Drag Race, live music at neighborhood venues, and a giant post-parade street party celebration are held throughout the immensely crowded streets of Soulard.
Many if not most will hear the words “Mardi Gras” and think New Orleans, but for me I think of my second home, St. Louis. This city and holiday celebration truly gave me an experience I will never forget and will always cherish. If you are looking for a time you will never forget, I cannot stress enough to visit the great city of St. Louis for this amazing holiday celebration.
Heureux Mardi Gras!