Carnival Along the Mississipi River
Mardi Gras St. Louis Style: Blues, Jazz, Cajun Cooking, and Wiener Dog Races
Mardi Gras Pet Parade in St. Louis
While New Orleans may be the premiere Mardi Gras party on the Mighty Mississippi, a few hundred miles upriver, the good folks of St. Louis host a mighty grand Carnival celebration of their own just a stones throw from the banks of the big river.
The modern Mardi Gras tradition in St. Louis began in 1980 when a man named Hilary Clemens and a few of his friends got together to blow off the mid-winter blues. They met in a building that Clemens had just purchased in the historic Soulard neighborhood. They each threwh some money into a pot, got some instruments, beads, and boas and marched up the street to a nearby pub which turned them away.
More than 25 years later, many things have come and gone. Hilary Clemens' building became Hilary’s, and later changed it’s name to Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar (and remains so to this day). But Soulard is still the center of Mardi Gras in St. Louis.
St. Louis puts on two major parades at Mardi Gras. The Grande Parade is where visitors will see all the floats and krewes, and will gather their throws. The Barkus Pet Parade sees thousands of spectators turn out each year to watch hundreds of costumed dogs and their owners parade their way tothe Weiner Dog Derby, another St. Louis Mardi Gras tradition.
As a result of St. Louis’ Mardi Gras celebrations, numerous charities (including Ronald McDonald House, AmeriCorps St. Louis,many local church groups and the Soulard Neighborhood historic preservation effort) benefit from fundraising food stands, balls, souvenir stands, and other means.
Though it is a bit cold in February, and may not be as big as some Mardi Gras celebrations, the hoopla in St. Louis is particularly rich in community spirit.
Year Round St. Louis
As a a destination at any time of the year, St. Louis is hard to beat for its food, music, history, sports, and family attractions.
Everybody knows about "the arch", but with Busch Stadium right downtown, casinos and riverboats all along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River, several university areas in town, the Blues Triangle, shopping, hockey, a major airport and ready access to numerous interstates, St. Louis is an easily reached major crossroads of culture, commerce, and activity.
St. Louis Feature Stories
Mardi Gras in Soulard - A Brief History of the Soulard Neighborhood in St. Louis
Cajun Cook-Off - St. Louis' Cajun & Creole Antidote to Old Man Winter
Taste of Soulard - Soulard Shows Off Its Best Cajun & Creole Eats
Soulard Pet Parade & Wiener Dog Derby- St. Louis' Four-Legged Mardi Gras Fun