The so-called Grand Parade Day symbolizes Soulard Mardi Gras. The day - which should be called the "Grand Drunk Day" - was held on Saturday, February 21. It is now over. Thank God.
The actual parade, which started at 11 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m., left the rest of the day for the bars and miscellaneous stands to sell booze, until outside sales ended at 8 p.m. and inside sales ended with a last call at 10:30 and bar closing at 11 p.m. Fortunately, the weather was cold, with temperatures in the low thirties. The cold was aided and abetted by a cutting wind, helpfully reducing the amount of trash - the drinkers - in the neighborhood.
During the time between the end of the parade and the merciful termination of liquor sales, there was nothing to do but to drink and to parade the streets. People did just that: drinking, mindlessly screaming and yelling, littering, engaging in a spectrum of anti-social activities, disrespecting themselves and the neighborhood. The ungodly noise and the trash produced by these annoying people seemed to be endless. Their behavior held the neighborhood hostage.
The halting of liquor sales finally finished what the wind and the cold temperatures (not to mention self respect and manners) could not accomplish: sending the remaining rubbish home, bringing to a close for another year this bleak, dangerous, ugly little faux festival, nudging elsewhere the awful folks who think that because they are half drunk (or all drunk), then they must be having a good time. Closing the tills of those whose greed for a fistful of dollars allows them to overlook what they do to the Soulard neighborhood and to the City of St. Louis.
Second largest Mardi Gras celebration in the nation, they brag. In reality, it is nothing but a public debacle, a blot on the landscape, a spectacle offering more insights into the leadership and personality of this town than anybody should want to reveal.
Soulard Mardi Gras Grand Parade day is truly a bleak, bitter day, even during those years when that day is warm and the wind is stilled.