The Haps: Whooo! Beads!!!

| Scene Events Columnist

We’ve all seen the videos from Mardi Gras down in New Orleans and thought, “I want to be there.” But you don’t have to drive 10 hours for all the fun. After the Big Easy, St. Louis has one of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in the country. Located down in Soulard, the events stretch out over the entire week and appeal to everyone from hardcore partiers to families to foodies.

Of course, the main event of Mardi Gras is the Grand Parade, which is one of the largest parades in the Midwest. Running from Busch Stadium to the Anheuser-Busch Factory, it attracts thousands of people hootin’ and hollerin’ for beads from the floats. The parade is this Saturday, Feb. 13, and starts at 11 a.m. Due to large numbers of attendees, however, I advise getting there early—more than a half an hour early. Officials ask that you do not try to park in Soulard, because although its streets are quaint and picturesque in a red-brick, creole kind of way, they are not parking-friendly. There is parking available at the Scottrade Center and down at the Landing, and both locations offer shuttles to Soulard on the day of the parade. The Landing shuttle picks up passengers at Second Street and Laclede’s Landing Boulevard. There are also Metro stops at the locations.

After the parade, the bars and streets of Soulard start to party. There will be live music on the Landshark Stage from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. Many of the restaurants in Soulard, including the legendary McGurk’s, are having DJs and drink specials. A list of bands playing, and restaurants and bars in the area, can be found at www.mard

igrasinc.com.

Know beforehand that you are not allowed to bring cans, bottles, coolers or large bags into the Mardi Gras area. They make it quite clear that if you do, they will take them, and you will never see your beer-filled JanSport again. Also be aware that there will be police patrolling the neighborhood streets, so keep that in mind before you go lifting up your T-shirt.

For those who aren’t big partiers, there are other great events to check out as well. Harley Davidson has created a racetrack for Harley Gras at Seventh Street and Geyer. You might ask, what will be burning rubber there? Tricycles. You and your friends can see who can put the pedal to the metal fastest and race around the track on trikes.

Mardi Gras is really something that can’t be missed while you’re living in St. Louis. It’s free to get into the event, so even if you just want to walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, there’s no strain on your wallet. Soulard is a great part of St. Louis that we often forget about, so head down to Mardi Gras and get to collecting those coveted beads.