St. Louis makes a pretty big deal out of the Mardi Gras season. Although the main parade isn't till next Saturday (the weekend before Ash Wednesday), today Tony and I bundled up and went to a parade that's new for us...the Beggin' Strips Barkus Pet Parade.
According to the Website, this was the 16th year for the parade, which is one of the largest pet parades in the world. I had no idea what to expect in terms of crowds, so we didn't even try to park in the Soulard area; instead we headed straight for the north side of Interstate 55 (where there was no problem finding a space), parked, and started following the crowd. It ended up being about a 15-minute walk to the parade site.
We staked out a spot at the beginning of the route a few minutes before the parade started, and ended up being right across the street from Johnny's Restaurant. They had a reviewing stand with an announcer that commented on people and pets as they walked by, and pet-themed music playing for the entire parade...such as "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window", "Walkin' The Dog", and "Puppy Love", which made the parade a lot of fun.
The event started right on time. For the next 40 minutes, we were treated to a stream of pets and their owners walking past us. Some of the animals were in elaborate costumes, and some just had on beads; the same thing could be said for the owners. There were a lot of beads thrown (and some candy, too). Tony's tall enough that he can catch beads as they're flying through the air, so we ended up with neckfuls. We shared some with the girls behind us, who wanted to collect one strand of every color.
It was a very family-friendly crowd. There were a lot of kids walking in the parade and watching it. There were also a lot of dogs on the sidelines, watching the parade with their owners. One person was handing out dog biscuits instead of beads, which the dogs seemed to appreciate more than the beads their owners were hanging around their necks!
Once the end of the parade passed us by, we left, so we didn't get to hear the announcement of the 2009 Beggin' Court, (king, queen, prince, princess and court jester). We also passed on the Weiner Dog Derby, which is a race specifically for dachshunds. Maybe we'll get to that next year!