Friday, February 20, 2009

Souldardi Gras and the Krewe Des Jeux

With Mardi Gras upon us, St. Louis will once again claim the title of 'biggest celebration outside of New Orleans'. Despite clear non-Yid originas, trust the St. Lou Jew to give you the down-low on fais-do do's and don'ts

For those of you unfamiliar with the Soulard festivities, the neighborhood, just South of Downtown will be closed to vehicles and open to imbibing.

How are we celebrating? Krewe Des Jeux says it all. Pronounced 'crew dey Jhew', this phrase contains multitudes. Traditionally, in New Orleans, a Krewe is an organization that plays a special role in Mardi Gras celebrations, most frequently sponsoring (and occupying) a float during a parade.

Krewe Des Jeux literally means Krewe of games (but sounds like crew of the Jew). Although not quite as funny as Krewe du Mishigas whose theme this year is Schmeckel and Shekel’s Foreskins and Foreclosures LLC, Krewe Des Jeux will never-the-less be making an appearance at Soulard's Mardi Gras aka Soulardi Gras.

Without further delay, make sure to follow these rules for a good time:

Don't bring the following: Bottles, cans, backpacks, and coolers are NOT allowed at Soulard Mardi Gras. We strictly forbid these items and will confiscate them at all checkpoints entering the Soulard neighborhood. You will not get the items back. You will never see them again. Leave them at home. These restrictions are necessary to maintain a safe environment for everyone, so we can all have fun. Together, we are creating a safe and enjoyable series of events for the whole region. NO Bottles, NO Cans, NO Backpacks, NO Coolers.

Don't drink if you are under 21: Undercover police officers, uniformed officers, and state liquor control agents will be assigned to Soulard on Grand Parade Day and on Fat Tuesday. They maintain a zero tolerance policy. They are also very efficient at recognizing offenders and booking them immediately. Law enforcement will arrest underage drinkers and prosecute them to the full extent of the law. Under 21 = No alcohol.

Don't urinate on streets, sidewalks, houses, cars, trees, flowers, or friends: Shouldn't 600 portable potties be enough? Sadly, not for some. Residents and visitors will once again note the "No PP" signs posted in the neighborhood. Police will issue anyone violating this ordinance a summons that will result in a court appearance and a maximum penalty of $500.00 and/or 90 days in jail. Why would you want this hassle? Pee in a potty.

Don't trespass: It seems obvious, but we will say it again. Soulard is a residential area. You will be partying in front of people's homes. Do not enter the homes of strangers under any circumstance. Also, do not take a nap in someone else's vehicle or hang out in someone's backyard. You would not want strangers wandering through your home or on your property. Trespassing is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a significant fine. There are many bars, restaurants, party tents, and street space where you can gather with your friends and not break the law.

Don't vandalize: Nobody likes to have his or her belongings broken or destroyed. This includes the residents of Soulard and the surrounding area. The penalty for vandalism is a $250.00 to $500.00 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Do park Downtown: Ample parking is available in Downtown St. Louis. MetroBus will again provide shuttle service to Soulard on Grand Parade Day, Saturday, February 21. Shuttles will run regularly from the ScottTrade Center Metro Station to Soulard and back.

Parking is restricted on Grand Parade Day, Saturday, February 21. This year the "Red Zone" area of Soulard, from Carroll to Shenandoah and 7th to Gravois is closed to vehicular traffic on Grand Parade Day. No vehicle movement or on-street parking will be allowed in this area, this includes motorcycles and motorized scotters. Violators will be towed and will pay hefty fines to reclaim vehicle.

Only Soulard residents with valid Parade Day Access Permits will be allowed to park in the "Yellow Zone" south of and including Shenandoah. "Yellow Zone" access permits will be mailed to Soulard households (2 per household). Residents who do not receive their permits may pick them up from January 7-11 at the Mardi Gras, Inc. office, 1013 Ann Ave. from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Do respect the police: Our local police handle many concerns in a short amount of time. They need people to cooperate. If an officer asks you to do something, do it without sarcastic remark or snotty comment. They will appreciate it and you can avoid arrest. The police are very serious about the job they have to do at these events, and they do not have time to argue with foolish people. Make everyone's life easier and cooperate.

Do participate in the various events: Mardi Gras is more than just one day. Check out our events page to find out more about the Wine Taste featuring Fetzer Vineyards, Gala Rouge Wines, and Korbel Champagne, Crystal Cajun Cook-Off, Beggin' Strips Barkus Pet Parade, PetSmart Wiener Dog Derby, and Children's Art Fair and Parade. On parade day, arrive early to get a good viewing spot along the parade route and enjoy the people watching as much as the parade. Many people dress in costume or other festive attire and they are not even in the parade! It is also a good idea to bring a bag to hold all the goodies that are thrown from floats. Bring your entire family and all your friends for a guaranteed good time. Laissez le Bon Temp Rouler! (Let the Good Times Roll).

Do dress for the weather: You never know what the weather is going to be like in St. Louis for Mardi Gras. We might have a snowstorm or it might be quite balmy. There might be sun or rain. It is even possible to have all in the same day. All Mardi Gras events happen regardless of rain, shine or blizzard. Make sure you check the weather report before heading down to Soulard, and even then be prepared for anything. Layers of clothing are your best bet. And remember, if you don't like the weather in St. Louis, just wait ten minutes.

For all of the details beyond booze and beads, visit the official site.

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