St. Louis' biggest party is just around the corner!
Mardi Gras festivities kicked off Monday, Jan. 6 with 12th Night, the traditional opening of the 35th annual Soulard Mardi Gras season, and the big event is scheduled for this weekend.
PHOTOS: 2013 Soulard Mardi Gras parade
The Grand Parade is scheduled for Saturday, March 1 and now there's an app for that! Seed Labs LLC has created the "ultimate guide to St. Louis Mardi Gras in historic Soulard." The app includes a button for events complete with times and locations, maps of parade routes and the Soulard neighborhood, and even a weather forecast!
Tickets can also be purchased through the app for the Bud Light Party Tent and the Mayor's Mardi Gras Ball.
MARCH 1: GRAND PARADE
The parade begins at 11 a.m. at Busch Stadium and is the precursor to the biggest party in St. Louis. Line up along the route to catch beads and indulge in libations. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/1a2kUkN.
There's never an excuse to drink and drive, so why not start planning your transportation strategy now? According to Mardi Gras Inc., the sponsor of the festivities, the safest transportation option is to take a taxi cab. County/Yellow Cab is the official taxi of Mardi Gras, and will have a stand at 10th and Marrion across the footbridge from Soulard Market. You can also always call them at 314-993-8294. Have a smartphone? Download their apps for iPhone, Blackberry, Android, or Palm webOS. You can also order a cab through their website.
MetroLink is also a convenient option, and MetroBus has a shuttle from the Civic Center station to Soulard. It will operate every 15 minutes between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. A round-trip shuttle ticket is $5.
St. Louis police urge festival-goers to "park smart" in well-lit populated areas. Never leave valuables in sight, and firearms are discouraged from Mardi Gras festivities.
Vehicles are prohibited in the Red Zone, marked by Marion to the north, Broadway to the east, Shenandoah from Broadway to 11th Street and Ann from 11th Street to Interstate 55 to the south, and I-55 to the west.
Only vehicles with permits will be allowed to park in the Yellow Zone, bordered by Ann from I-55 to 11th Street and Shenandoah from 11th Street to Broadway to the north, 7th Street to the east, Lynch to the south, and I-55 to the west. This area includes Soulard north of I-55 bound by I-55, Tucker, and Park.
6th Street from Cerre to Gratiot
Clark from 8th Street to Broadway
Entire Red Zone
Grand Parade route
St. Louis police say there will be a "significant police presence" of officers both in uniform and undercover. Traffic details, parking restrictions, liquor laws, and other regulations that apply to the Grand Parade and Fat Tuesday Day Parade will be enforced.
Real-time cameras have been installed around Soulard and will be monitored to help keep control over the crowds.
Backpacks, coolers, bottles, and cans are prohibited in the festival area. Perimeter checkpoints will be established throughout the Soulard neighborhood.
Anyone under the age of 21-years-old caught drinking alcohol or using false identification will be cited and subject to arrest.
Rooftop parties cannot have public attractions including bands, DJs, or bead tossing for safety reasons.
Anyone who urinates on the street will be considered to be engaging in lewd and indecent conduct and subject to arrest. Portable toilets will be available throughout the festival area.
Police discourage partiers to leave weapons at home.
Have you ever been at a crowded public event and struggled with getting a cell signal? Verizon Wireless is installing three temporary cell sites in the Soulard neighborhood to accommodate the large crowds of partiers posting to Instagram, Twitter, and Facbeook. So fear not, your #STLMG selfies will be seen!
MARCH 4: FAT TUESDAY PARADE
The second parade of Mardi Gras begins at 6:30 p.m. at Washington & Broadway. Some nearby restaurants will have great food and drink specials. More information is available here: http://bit.ly/1bMiiaj.
The parade begins at Broadway and Washington Avenue, heading to North 14th Street and Washington, where it ends. Washington Avenue will close between Broadway and North 14th Street, and no parking will be allowed along the route. Any vehicles parked on the street in this area will be towed.
Staging for the parade will happen on Broadway between Convention and Washington.
Anyone driving downtown around the time of the parade should be aware of significant delays.
PAST MARDI GRAS CELEBRATIONS
Thousands pack Soulard for Mardi Gras parade
2013 Soulard Mardi Gras parade
2012 Soulard Mardi Gras parade
2012 Pet Parade
2011 Soulard Mardi Gras parade
2011 Fat Tuesday parade