Monday, February 8, 2016

Mardi Gras St. Louis Style

Despite living in St. Louis for thirty-seven years, I have never attended the Mardi Gras parade here. Once when our son was a toddler, my husband and I took him downtown to the St. Patrick's Day parade. Arriving early, we secured a nice spot where our little guy would be able to actually see the parade. Unfortunately arriving early also gave us all the opportunity to see folks puking up their green beer. As if that was't enough, some johny come latelys pushed and shoved their was to the curb, knocking my family right out of the way. That was it for us, and since then we stick to our lovely, local 4th of July parade. If there is ever any puking, I haven't seen it.

My photographer friend asked me if I wanted to go with her to the Mardi Gras parade this year to take photos. She explained that she goes down to the Soulard area early to photograph the people and all the other trappings that the event brings. As it promised to be a beautiful day, I agreed to go with her. She picked me up at 9:00 on Saturday, and we headed to the Shrewsbury MetroLink Station. The beauty of this station is that it is the beginning of the line. You can always be assured of a seat on the way to wherever you are headed. After several more stops, it was standing room only on the train. On the advice of Mardi Gras organizers we got off at the Civic Center stop, where for $6 you could purchase a round trip bus ticket and be dropped off near the parade route. I have to say, it was a great system. We had no wait time for a bus on either the way to or from the festivities.

The people watching was everything my friend assured me it would be, and it was fun to take pictures and observe human nature at its not always finest. We very quickly concluded that we were several decades older than the average party-goer, despite it being the morning. I could not believe how many times people (always young men) felt the need to talk (yell) at me about what I was photographing. "Why are you taking pictures of a door? You should be taking pictures of us!" This was always followed by them trying to photobomb my shot. And when I photographed a cat in a window? "Are you taking a picture of the pussy in the window? She's photographing pussy!" Oh yes, you're a clever one, aren't you? But really, how could I pass up this cat who looks like she is thinking, "What in the world are all these people doing here?"

Mardi Gras kitty
We wandered up and down the many streets that were closed for the occasion, and it was a great opportunity to study and photograph the incredible architecture in this historic part of St. Louis. Normally there are cars blocking the way, but on Saturday we only had to wait for the drunks to stumble on by. I'd like to say that they were few and far between, but that would be a lie. And despite the supposed crackdown on public urination (and the presence of 1,000 porta-potties), I still saw men peeing wherever they pleased. It was annoying yet sad at the same time. I wanted to take a video of these kids and send it to them when they are older (and sober).

St. Louis Blues float
We actually did see a little of the parade and I was amazed at the jostling that went on in the crowd, all in an effort to secure the $.10 strands of beads as they were thrown from the floats. As the music grew loader (and it was all about that bass, 'bout that bass, no treble...), and the crowds grew thicker (and more drunk), it was time for the seniors to head on back to the bus and find a more civilized place to have lunch.

The bottom line is that while I had a good time with my friend and love the photos that I took, I won't hurry back for this event. It appears that little has changed in the 30 years since I last attended a parade downtown. There is still too much drinking, puking, and shoving going on.

1 comment:

Mrs. Wryly said...

Very good and colorful photos! That cat was thinking how crazy humans are.