Brad Wuller’s bachelor party was, from what he’s heard, somewhat of a first in St. Louis.
The Southampton resident and about 20 of his friends celebrated his upcoming June nuptials by building a “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”-themed float for St. Louis’ annual Mardi Gras parade.
“I was trying to think of different ideas to do for a bachelor party and we thought about staying in town and going to the parade,” Wuller said. “Then I thought, you know what? We’ll do one better and build a float.”
Wuller and his friends were just a few of the thousands of people who on Saturday morning packed downtown St. Louis decked out in outrageous costumes and sporting the holiday’s signature colors — purple, green and gold — for the Bud Light Grand Parade.
This year’s parade theme was titled “That’s Entertainment!” and encompassed “everything that makes you cheer, dance, or applaud,” according to Mardi Gras Inc. It was the nonprofit organization’s 44th year hosting events throughout the region.
Float themes ranged from “under the sea” to Las Vegas to rock ’n’ roll. The Banana Bike Brigade, a nonprofit group that takes its fleet of decorated bicycles on the road year-round to parades, arrived Saturday with bikes elaborately designed to represent beloved movies such as “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” “Bee Movie,” “Peter Pan” and “Pippi Longstocking.”
Organizers said attendance was high at earlier events, and they anticipated a big turnout Saturday.
“Huge crowds,” Bess McCoy, a Mardi Gras Foundation board member, said after the parade. “Really, a sea of people flooded all over Soulard. I can say this is probably one of the biggest crowds we’ve seen in the last several years. It certainly rivals, if not exceeds, what we’ve seen pre-pandemic.”
The energy was high Saturday morning as people gathered on South Broadway between Walnut Street and Chouteau Avenue in downtown to prepare their floats and party on a sunny, mild February morning.
Philip and Amanda Kuhlman told the Post-Dispatch they are part of The Sultans of Excess, which they said is St. Louis’ second-longest running parade “krewe” — the term for a group that designs and operates a float in the parade.
Amanda, decked out in Mardi Gras colors, and Philip, dressed from head to toe as a pirate, made the hour drive from their home in Farmington, Mo., for the event.
“We love it, it’s a fun time and also the time leading up to Mardi Gras — the time we spend building the float together,” she said. “It’s really good for everyone to get together and have fun. It’s like another family.”