Revelers will 'feel their temperatures rising' as a 25-foot flaming heart, fireworks and the city’s hottest musicians kick off St. Louis’ 250th birthday party with a bang on Art Hill in Forest Park. Touted as 'Burnin’ Love,' the signature celebration will be one of four stl250 events from Feb. 14 to 17 set to honor the city’s founding. The red-hot opening will be a spectacle to behold, says Erin Budde of stl250, as a crowd of 25,000 is expected to gather for the once-in-a-lifetime festivities running from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Feb. 14.
The heart-pounding festival will feature two performance stages backing up to the Grand Basin, with the giant fire-shooting heart in the center of the action. Any frigid temperatures should melt away amid the fiery heart, colorful light show, flame-shooting cannons and fire-dancers. And if that isn’t enough, attendees can warm up by dancing to the music of seasoned favorite, St. Louis Social Club. Guests also will have the opportunity to partake in culinary favorites, from sweet and savory snacks to a lineup of beverages, as well as interact in various activities, such as stepping into a historic St. Louis scene for a keepsake photo.
And in the spirit of love for the city—and the day of love—festival-goers will be invited to help break the Guinness Book World Record for simultaneous engagements by ‘popping the question’ or ‘re-popping the question.’ Couples registering on stl250.org will have the chance to win prizes, including a diamond ring, and all of the lovebirds will be serenaded by an Elvis impersonator’s rendition of Burning Love during the event. “It’s going to be such a neat night and something that we think could become a tradition in St. Louis,” Budde says.
The celebration continues with The Biggest Birthday Bash Feb. 14, 15 and 17 at Missouri History Museum. The free family-friendly event will highlight 250 years of regional heritage with interactive multimedia exhibits. Additional festivities will include live musical performances, local fare, and art activities, such as cupcake decorating, birthday hat-making and face-painting.
The History Museum also will play host to The Biggest Birthday Ball, a cocktail party featuring live music and dance performances, St. Louis-centric food stations and re-enactors, from 6 to 10 p.m. on Feb. 16. Playing to a projected audience of 800 will be the St. Louis All-Stars, including blues diva Kim Massie and Theo Peoples of The Four Tops and The Temptations. “They will be performing St. Louis favorites, from Joplin through Nelly,” Budde says. Guests can gain entry to the ball with a $100 ticket, access to a second level of festivities with a $250 VIP lounge pass, or become a patron for $500.
Another highlight of the birthday weekend will be the St. Louis Historical Reenactment at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 15 at St. Louis City Hall. The program will trace back to the city’s founding, with local dignitaries joining the U.S. Ambassadors from Spain and France, an envoy from Quebec and the Chief of the Osage Nation in witnessing these displays. Interested attendees can reserve their free seats at stl250.org.
But that’s not all—the celebration continues all year long as the city’s signature institutions pay homage to St. Louis in their own way through more than 100 events, Budde notes. Check out stl250.org for a full listing of festivities.
Cakeway to the West
To sweeten St. Louis’ big birthday, a region-wide scavenger hunt called Cakeway to the West will feature 250 four-foot-tall cakes for the finding at signature sites throughout the city, from the Gateway Arch to Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Busch Stadium, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis Art Museum and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Two-hundred of the locales, which were selected by the stl250 committee, will be announced Feb. 14 at the Burnin’ Love Festival. The remaining 50 spots, chosen through a public vote, are posted on stl250.org.
The interactive cakes are custom-decorated with visions of St. Louis, through the eyes of 150 top local artists, notes Erin Budde of stl250. “They tell a wonderful story about our history, present day and where we might be going.” Residents can grab their smartphones, download the Cakeway to the West app and scan the QR codes on as many cakes as they can to earn points toward chances to win a variety of prizes to be drawn later this year. The app encourages St. Louisans to learn more about the city’s landmarks, tell their own stories and post photos of themselves with the cakes at their various locales. Sound like a sweet deal? Let the games begin!