Saint Louis kicked off its carnival season today. Today was the day of the main event, the largest of the Mardi Gras parades, in the old French Soulard neighborhood. Tomorrow, the Zoo has a kids Mardi Gras parade and of course there will be another Mardi Gras parade on Tuesday, for the traditionalist. Somewhere in there the Barkus parade is held, a Mardi Gras parade for dogs. As you might have gathered by now, Mardi Gras is a big deal here in Saint Louis. We’re second only to New Orleans in the size of our celebrations. Saint Louis is a very Catholic town.
Today dawned cold and snowy. The pavement was still too warm for the snow to stick, but the grass and cars got coated by a half inch. The skies were already clearing when I launched my bike. I rode through the Park and then the Shaw, Compton Heights and McKinley Heights neighborhoods on my way to the Soulard neighborhood. The crowds were already arriving when I got to the parade route. I locked the bike, picked my spot and waited for the parade to begin.
The parade route was down one side of Broadway Boulevard and it was lined with spectator barriers. Most of the crowd was composed of young people and most of the crowd was drinking. That being said there were plenty of cops around. The atmosphere was a far cry from years ago, when Anne and I took the boys to see the parade. Back then the parade snaked through the narrow 19th century streets of the Soulard neighborhood and the crowd had out grown the venue. We only felt safe then by the reviewers stand, because that was where all the cops had congregated.
Eventually, the parade began. The floats were certainly not Rose Bowl caliber. There primary function had governed their design, which was to serve as a conveyance for as many of their crew as they could hold. We spectators viewed their primary function as that of a bead delivery system. Beads! Beads!! I spent an hour catching beads, well at least trying to catch beads, before I got too cold. The parade was still going on strong when I threw my leg over the bike and headed for home.
Since tomorrow is the Oscars, I think I’ll make a movie, in their honor. I’ve got a working title of Minute Mardi Gras. We’ll see. I got in twenty-one miles today.