#12: Soulard Mardi Gras

Student Life, the school paper of Washington University made a video blog of the day. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdaT-JdXi9A

Soulard Mardi Gras is one of the biggest events in St. Louis, occurring on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday- usually in February or March. In 2014, it was on March 1st. For the day of Mardi Gras, the entire neighborhood of Soulard transforms into a huge 60-block party with concerts, DJ booths, beads, people watching, and of course boobs. The party officially begins with the Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade at 11AM.

Are you ready to party?
Are you ready to party?

For the last 2 years, I have actually marched in the parade. 2 years ago, I was walking by the parade and drunkenly asked some strangers if I could march with them. Amazingly, they said yes.

Marching in the 2012 Soulard Mardi Gras Parade
Marching in the 2012 Soulard Mardi Gras Parade

The next year, I returned to march with my friend Andrew.

Marching in the 2013 Soulard Mardi Gras Parade
Marching in the 2013 Soulard Mardi Gras Parade

For my senior year, I wanted to do something big and enter my own krewe in the parade. So, I called up Andrew and over the course of 3 months, we planned out the details for our parade krewe, Too Krewel For School. The theme for our krewe was “Celebrating Higher Education in St. Louis”, so we recruited a bunch of our friends to represent Wash U. Additionally, we rented the Billiken mascot from Saint Louis University and hired the Honeycombs Dance Crew from Harris Stowe State University. We also bought 1,500 beads from a wholesaler in New Orleans, school flags, and a wagon to hold everything.

Too Krewel For School 2014
Too Krewel For School 2014

We started the day of Mardi Gras at 8AM with a pregame. At 9AM, our ragtag army headed down to the train station and off to the parade staging grounds downtown.

Gameday
Gameday

We then got to explore the parade staging grounds and got to interact with the other floats- some of which are very elaborate.

This float represents the St. Louis Catholic Church.
The St. Louis Archdiocese float really likes me
The Opening Day float
The Opening Day float

At 11:15 we were ready to go, but first snapped this amazing team photo.

All 3 St. Louis mascots!!!
All 3 St. Louis mascots!!!

We then started the 1.5 mile march into Soulard. For the entire route, there were crowds of people up to 10 deep. The estimated attendance at the parade was 350,000.

No shame on Mardi Gras
No shame on Mardi Gras

The Honeycombs marched in the front of the krewe and basically booty-dropped the entire way to Soulard. The crowd loved them in their sparkly gold outfits.

No shame on Mardi Gras
No shame on Mardi Gras

Next was the Billiken mascot, played by a SLU freshman. Due to the large numbers of SLU alumni and students, people really liked the mascot. Some people even started doing the S-L-U chant to try to get beads.

Go Bills Go!!!
Go Bills Go!!!

Finally, we had the Wash U and SLU students aka our friends. We waved the school flags and threw out the beads to the crowds.

Making friends
Making friends

As the role of sweeper, my job was to make sure that the krewe stayed together. Andrew pulled the wagon full of the beads and beer.

Andhess, Lord of the Wagon
Andhess, Lord of the Wagon

Unfortunately, when we reached the judges booth at the 1-mile mark, the little red wagon broke, which gave us major point deductions from the judges. We then had to carry all our remaining gear and abandon the wagon. Andrew took all the beads and I carried the 30-rack of Budweiser. The Budweiser turned out to be a huge hit, as people threw beads at me in an attempt to get a beer from me. There was a 0% chance I was giving up the beer after carrying it so far, but I appreciated the gesture.

Game recognize Game
Game recognize Game

Occasionally, I would raise the beer up above my head to the roar of the crowd. In fact, the crowd yelled more for that than they did for beads. At around 12:15, we finally reached the end of the parade route at which point our group did a final cheer before disbanding. We then headed into the party. While the Mardi Gras party is really fun, nothing can quite compare to the rush of thousands of people cheering for your beads in the parade.

Cover of Studlife!!!
Cover of Studlife!!!

Hopefully, Too Krewel For School will make an appearance again in next year’s parade.

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