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St Louis : First Night Kaleidoscope

Monday Oct 20, 2008
St Louis Arch - Courtesy

St Louis Arch - Courtesy

I guess St Louis is really looking for a big change going by the size of the huge crowds that said it all. It was the largest domestic crowd that Senator Obama drew upon visiting St Louis on Saturday, October 18. Shortly after taking the stage before a 100,000 audience beneath the famed Gateway Arch of St Louis, the protagonist finished off his speech to the background score of Signed, sealed and delivered under perfect weather conditions – mostly sunny, cool, with an occasional light breeze. Gateway City looks all ready to welcome Change.

Seen as the East – West US dividing mark, St. Louis is referred to as the Gateway to the West on account of the mass migrations that had occurred through the city via the Missouri River along the wagon trails. Popularly abbreviated to “STL” in reference to its airport code, the interlocked version of STL is also the insignia of the city’s base ball team, St Louis Cardinals.

The sprawling city developed in response to its relationship to the river. Economic development that started off around the river bank on the levee has now emerged as the the landing, a great place to be around. This long, smooth bank of land has now been paved with cobblestone and slopes down to the river at an incline. At one time the place permitted river vessels of the time to beach onto it in order to be unloaded and loaded. Stevedoring has had a long haul here.

St. Louis with its diverse multi-cultural population is well known for architecture, festivals, sports, historical sites, and other aspects that draw visitors from around the world. Located at the confluence of two of the world’s greatest rivers, the Mississippi and the Missouri, it is one of the world’s most influential river cities. The city named for King Louis IX of France is famous for its multiple French and German influences as well as couched to its Victorian past.

Touring around Saint Louis usually begins at the top of the Arch, the 640 feet tall structure that is the signature landmark of the city. And ideally a visit should take in a walk by the Mississippi along with lunch at the Landing. In between there are umpteen attractions that make this city immensely interesting. Even a stop over at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery to watch how they make Bud is a fascinating experience. With the festive season in the offing St Louis gets ready to focus on kid-friendly and family oriented festivities offering some good old fun around here.

All through October and November enjoyable events are lined up in St Louis to put you in a pre-holiday mood making your spirits soar to welcome the year-end festivities. St. Louis Zoo has the Boo at the Zoo show offering loads of family fun full of spooks, laughs, animals, night hikes and hauntingly fun entertainment! October 24 – 26 has the Fall Home Show at the Edward Jones Dome while October 25 is to see Halloween at Historic Daniel Boone Home. If you are interested in physical feats then November 15 should be your date for the, 2008 Tour of Gymnastics Superstars at the Scottrade Center. November 26 can have you enjoying Holiday Festival of Lights at the Kiener Plaza in Downtown. Walkabout in Missouri Botanical Garden from November 26 to January 4 for the spectacular Gardenland Express.

If you’re going to be visiting St Louis it would do well to make note of other interesting events on board here. The 17th Annual St. Louis International Film Festival is to be on at the Tivoli and Hi-Pointe theatres and other venues from November 13th to 23rd. Screenings of films, shorts, features, documentaries and independent features from all over the world, with special emphasis on American independents, world cinema and prize-winning short subjects. The festival has achieved an official designation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a sanctioned short subject qualification event.

Also on the cards is the Downtown Holiday Parade on November 27 that is said to be the Midwest’s best holiday parade featuring colorful floats, bands, storybook characters, carriages, equestrian units and Santa Claus, as it winds through downtown St. Louis to kick off the holiday season. The parade begins at Broadway and Market Streets, marching west on Market Street to St. Louis Union Station. If you really are keen on a true Midwest experience then you could begin making your plans now. The St Louis Downtown Hotel site will give you a world of STL lodging conveniences that would suit all kinds of pockets.

And if you really want to kick off the new year in a great big American style then watch out for the First Night® St. Louis 2009: Kaleidoscope that begins 5.30 onwards until well beyond midnight of December 31, 2008 at the Grand Center Arts and Entertainment District. Experience a winter celebration featuring visual and performing arts, musicians, storytellers, dancers, magicians, actors, puppeteers and visual and media artists. Festivities kick-off with a grand procession all the way to the main stage at the intersection of Grand Boulevard and Lindell Avenue for a fantastic opening ceremony. Enjoy twin fireworks one for children at nine’o clock and then the Grand Fireworks at midnight. Guess some things never change in St Louis – not ever!

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