The magnitude of St. Louis Mardi Gras Parade can be credited to one person. His name is Hilary Clements, who is best described as "a party man." He died 14 years ago, but his family is continuing his legacy at each annual parade.

The "first" Soulard Mardi Gras parade happened 40 years ago, when Clements, a few of his friends and their kids marched around Soulard one night.

"They decided to get a casket at 11 o'clock at night and walk a block up to the corner tavern and carry this casket with a trombone," said Michelle Dupske, the oldest daughter of Clements.

"My father always raised us that you never say no," said Dupske. "If you want to do something, there's always a way to do it."

This is a motto that has shaped what Mardi Gras is today in St. Louis, proving something can start very small, but grow into a great tradition.

"It just bombed into a bigger party and a bigger party....and that's how St. Louis got Mardi Gras," said Dupske.

The whole family rides in a float in the parade each year that honors Clements as the founder of the parade. It's not as easy anymore for Dupske, but she doesn't let anything stop her from participating in the parade.

"My legs aren't real sturdy, but when I put the float together I feel like....my dad's here," said Dupske.

Clements started hosting the first Mardi Gras parties at his tavern in Soulard on Russell Ave. After he passed away, the family sold the business. Right now, it's home to Harpo's.

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

News 4 Reporter

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