ST. LOUIS – The Mardi-Party has arrived! Tens of thousands gathered Saturday in St. Louis to celebrate the return of the city’s annual Mardi Gras parade.
Branded as the Bud Light Grand Parade, the event is a dazzling show that makes way from Downtown St. Louis to the Soulard neighborhood along Broadway.
The parade stretched several miles and includes more than 80 group entries. Visitors had the chance to see spirited floats, marching bands, performers and krewes.
Participants threw out more than 15 million beads, candy and other goodies for families to enjoy. The St. Louis Blues, St. Louis CITY SC and Horseshoe St. Louis were among the most popular organizations with parade floats.
This year’s Mardi Gras parade marked the 43rd in St. Louis history. It’s the headliner of a five-week-long celebration in Soulard leading up to “Fat Tuesday,” the Mardi Gras observance that is recognized on Feb. 21 this year.
Soulard’s Mardi Gras festivities generate around $20 million each year for the local economy. Nearly one-quarter of parade visitors come from out of town, helping with the annual contribution.
While the origins of Mardi Gras stem from New Orleans, St. Louis also has some deep-rooted connections. Back in the 1790s, one southern area of St. Louis City was run by an upper Louisiana surveyor named Antoine Soulard. The neighborhood later embraced his namesake and began hosting Mardi Gras celebrations more than 200 years later.
Check out dozens of photos from Saturday’s parade above in the photo slideshow. FOX 2’s Joey Schneider captured the action.