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 sec- ond Mardi Gras season, but both made up of neighbors who come together dur- ing 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)aloveofwhimsyand3)afunwayto bring neighbors together with a limited time commitment.
Although Soulard’s Mardi Gras has been celebrated but a few years, this festival has inherited a legacy of celebration and merrymaking in Frenchtown. Frenchtown was the longtime name of most of the area now generally known as the “near south side.” The present boundries of this former group of neighborhoods are more or less Busch Stadium to the north, the DeMenil mansion to the south, the Mississippi River to the east, and 14th Street to the west. Within these bounds lived the most wealthy set in early St. Louis, the handful of aristocratic French families whose lavish and frequent entertaining earned them the premiere place in St. Louis society. Today’s Mardi Gras stands as a legacy to those festive, carefree days of Frenchtown.