ST. LOUIS — The Saturday prior to Fat Tuesday is traditionally Mardi Gras’ biggest celebratory day.
But Soulard Mardi Gras organizers and St. Louis officials have reconfirmed that this year’s plans will be different from previous years.
There will be no Mardi Gras Grand Parade, no sanctioned street parties and no mass gatherings of any kind in Soulard on Feb. 13.
Instead, because of COVID-19 health concerns, parade day will be part of the 2021 #MardiGrasSafeAtHome campaign, which will be celebrated on Saturday with a virtual Bud Light Derby Day event. Derby Day will include a virtual pinewood derby-style racing series and the virtual Tito’s Wiener Dog Derby, which benefits Gateway Pet Guardians. All Derby Day events will be streamed Saturday at 2 p.m. on the Soulard Mardi Gras Facebook page on the Soulard Mardi Gras Derby Day event page.
For those looking to celebrate outside of their homes, ticketed and reservation-only experiences will be offered at some Soulard establishments.
A list of participating establishments can be found on the Derby Day event page here.
Organizers have been working closely with 7th Ward Alderman Jack Coatar, officials from the St. Louis health department, building division, and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to make sure it's a safe Mardi Gras weekend for everyone.
“We want everyone to be safe and remember that health department guidelines for bars, restaurants, and private gatherings remain in place,” Coatar said. “Various city departments, Mardi Gras organizers and I are taking the potential threat to public health posed by spontaneous gatherings very seriously. Although the past year has been difficult for all of us, including our restaurants, I appreciate all the Soulard establishments who are being responsible and keeping their employees and customers safe by adhering to the city’s public health guidelines. Let’s do the right thing so we are all still around to enjoy a real Mardi Gras in 2022.”
Since there will be no parade or street festival on Saturday, there will be no street closures and no special parking programs for Soulard residents, both of which are features of a typical parade day.
According to the news release, there will be health inspectors in Soulard on Saturday to make sure businesses and people following the city’s health guidelines. The St. Louis Building Division also will be enforcing all building code violations including but not limited to illegal occupancies, illegal tents, overcrowded decks or balconies and unsafe conditions such as locked or blocked exits.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden noted the department will have additional officers assigned to Soulard on Saturday.
Mardi Gras organizers also want to remind the community to be careful about online misinformation. False event claims have been circling around Facebook.