Kid-friendly Mardi Gras (all beads, no booze) Jan. 23

January 18, 2010

Long before I moved to Soulard, I loved Mardi Gras. It all started in New Orleans, back in the early ’90s, and during the subsequent six years that my husband and I lived in Germany I learned how to beat the wind chill and enjoy a really good Fasching parade (as the whole carnival was known in our part of Deutschland).

And when we settled in here in 2001, we embraced the celebration wholeheartedly, choosing to avoid the drunken revelry that gives Mardi Gras a bad reputation and instead focus on the playful aspects of the day: the food, the parade, the fellowship with friends.

Our neighbors who live in the epicenter of Soulard during Mardi Gras don’t all share our warm feelings toward the event, and in an effort to placate them, the nonprofit that organizes the festivities (and, incidentally, donates tens of thousands of dollars back to the community each year for civic infrastructure and other good causes) continues to reach out toward groups who’re about the non-alcoholic fun. Last year’s first Family Winter Carnival was a big hit — so big they ran out of supplies quite early in the day, much to their chagrin. I don’t think they’ll underestimate demand again this year, but even if they run out of supplies to make masks, crowns and noisemakers, you can still enjoy:

  • the music of our favorite children’s singer, Babaloo (11:30-12:30)
  • the opportunity to paint art on an 8-by-32-foot wall
  • the Rams’ football challenge
  • the Saint Louis Science Center’s activity corner
  • the Segway timed trials
  • the children’s parade, starting at 9th and Lafayette and looping through the neighborhood

There will be food and non-alcoholic drinks available for purchase, plus a free heated tent where many of the activities will take place. And the whole thing ends at 4 p.m., long before the nightlife crowd starts rolling into Soulard.

I hope you have so much fun at the Family Winter Carnival that you decide to brave the crowds on Feb. 13 to experience the parade too.  Come back in a couple weeks, when I’ll be highlighting the ways your family can make the most of the Mardi Gras parade.

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