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Parade Preparations, Mayor's Ball Kick Off Mardi Gras

February 09, 2018 - 7:41 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Good times await in Soulard, site of  Saturday's  Mardi Gras Grand Parade.

Safety and security are top priorities, according to new St. Louis police chief John Hayden.

"I'm discouraging people from bringing firearms. Stolen firearms in the hands of the wrong person, of course, are part of our violent crime problem but at the same time, as a general rule, firearms and festive drinking do not mix," he says. 

Organizers are asking that Mardi Gras revelers leave their cans, coolers, bottles and backpacks at home, and to take Metro, a shuttle, a cab, or a ride-share service to get to and from Soulard.

 

It's expected to be a cold day for the Grand Parade. Judges for that big event got their orientation last night. First-time judge John Schuler says he's been to the party but not the parade before, so this'll be a first.

"Over the top, I'm hoping for over the top," he says. 

The theme this year is 100 years of the Muny.   Kwofe Coleman of the Muny who's very excited.

"We went to the 12th night celebration and there were rumblings of a 'free seats' float, so I'm excited to see what that looks like," he says. 

Local band The Whiskey Raccoons will sing the National Anthem before the parade steps off at 11.

 

But while everybody's talking about the parade on Saturday,  another Mardi Gras event is the mayors ball tonight. Mardi Gras Foundation President Mack Bradley says it's a black-tie charitable ball with a purple, green and gold twist.

"It benefits the Mardi Gras Foundation and we take that money, the proceeds from the Mayor's Ball, and put community grants into Soulard and downtown to try to give something tangible and permanent back to the neighborhood that's been gracious enough to host this party," he says. 

This is the 16th year for the Mayor's ball - but the first for a mayor whose name isn't Slay. The past 15 years, then-mayor Francis Slay has welcomed guests to city hall. Tonight, Mayor Lyda Krewson will have those duties.