Mardi Gras doesn’t happen overnight. To pull off a Mardi Gras full of whimsy and magic takes many hands and many groups.
Krewes remain the grassroots part of Soulard’s Mardi Gras festivities. Soulard has two active Krewes, one longstanding over 26 years and one entering its second Mardi Gras season, but both made up of neighbors who come together during Mardi Gras. The wonderful thing about the Banana Bike Brigade and the Soulard Super Troupers is that both Krewes are formed around three main ideas: 1) an annual outlet for creativity, 2) a love of whimsy and 3) a fun way to bring neighbors together with a limited time commitment.
From the whimsical to the serene, the ridiculous to the sublime, the Banana Bike Brigade’s kinetic creativity defies comparison. We are a unique group of Saint Louis artists dedicated to the art of the parade and the nurturing of the creative child in everyone. The mission of the Banana Bike Brigade is to bring a sense of joy to the eye of the beholder, change the mood of any space from the ordinary to the extraordinary, leaving a lasting change for the better, and an air of peace and playfulness to those places and people they encounter.
“This year the Banana Bike Brigade is doing a tribute to our beloved neighbor hood in the Mardi Gras parade as Iconic Soulard,” said Bonita Lieber.
The Soulard Super Troupers krewe formed in 2017 and had its first float in the 2018 Mardi Gras Parade made by a group of neighbors who wanted to bring back a float created by Soulardians. It was group effort, with the assistance of a local business owner, that brought the Krewe to fruition. Moving ahead in 2019, the Krewe has elected to focus on a charity donation to the American Federation for Suicide Prevention. The Soulard Super Troupers hope that, in some small way, they can assist in shining a light on the importance of mental health and suicide prevention.
“This year the Super Troupers are going into their second year and continuing on and stepping up our game,” said Eric Marlinghaus. “With the recent edition of even larger warehouse space and additional time we expect this year’s float to be bigger and better than last year. Having Mardi Gras in March this year is a real advantage, allowing extra time to plan, move through the creative process, and execute the float. It is a really fun process, not just the actual building, but also the quality time with neighbors that you might not see other times during the year.”
The Soulard Super Troupers are taking Krewe cues from the sage wisdom of the Banana Bike Brigade and establishing a ball as well as a presence in the Purina Pet Parade. Mardi Gras was never meant to be a season limited to a specific number of events, floats, or balls — so the more that we can squeeze into Soulard proper during the Mardi Gras season, the better. The Banana Bike Brigade Ball will take place Feb. 23 from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at the Lemp Grand Hall. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at brownpapertickets.com. Music is by Creole Stomp and a cash bar is available.