By Jessica Machetta

Missourians gear up for annual St. Louis Mardi Gras celebration

Thousands are expected Saturday at St. Louis’s annual Mardi Gras celebration. The grand parade begins at 11 a.m. tomorrow. St. Louis Metro Police Chief Sam Dotson says police will be watching for underage drinkers, drunk drivers, and patrolling parking areas for potential car break-ins.

The same rules that have applied in past years will continue this year. There will be 23 perimeter checkpoints set up around the neighborhood.

“If you’re coming into the event, if you’re coming into the festival zone, you’re going to go through one of those 23 checkpoints. No coolers. No backpacks. No alcohol,” says Dotson. “All of the things that we’ve always said you can’t bring, you can’t bring.”

Dotson says Mardi Gras is not the place for guns.

Photos courtesy of St. Louis Mardi Gras website

“You’re coming to have a good time. You’re coming to celebrate just like everybody else here. People drink,” says Dotson. “People will have an opportunity to have a cocktail. Don’t bring your gun and when you park, don’t leave your gun in your car.”

Dotson asks those at the event to be respectful of the people that live in the area. He says the crowds that pour in for the celebration equal those when the St. Louis Cardinals host a World Series game.

Traffic officials are urging people to use public transportation. Shuttles to and from the celebration will be provided by the metro service — it’s $6 round trip.