To say Wordi Gras had humble beginnings is a huge understatement.
The "redneck Mardi Gras" in Worden started on a snowy Saturday six years ago. A handful of twentysomethings were sitting around the house, disappointed and bored.
"We had all wanted to go down (to the St. Louis Mardi Gras), but we didn't want to mess with the cold and the crowd," said A.J. Harshbarger, now 31, of Edwardsville.
The crew piled into the back of a pickup truck and drove down the village's main drag, waving, cheering and throwing beads to anyone in sight.
Festivities continued at Leo and Jan's Idle Hour, a family tavern where the friends had worked.
"It was a goofy day," said A.J., who now works as a legal investigator. "We just hung out all day and made fun out of boredom."
In the next few years, the parade grew to include a police car, fire truck, American Legion color guard, a few floats and trucks decorated with deer mounts and beer cans.
The Idle Hour starting putting up a heated tent, hiring a D.J. and selling Jello shots. The Yellow Dog Bar and Grill also got in the act.
An estimated 2,000 people showed up for Wordi Gras last year, twice Worden's population. They came from as far away as Springfield and St. Charles, Mo.
"It's gotten big enough that the (village) provides porta potties," said Ron East, 42, of Staunton, who manages the Idle Hour for his parents.
This year's parade begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. It will cover three blocks on Wall Street, from Park to Shirley.
Units include Lawnmower Mania, a charitable organization similar to the Shriners, but members drive riding lawn mowers.
Still secret is the theme of a much-anticipated float built at Performance Pipe by a group of women known as "The Girls." Last year, they rode "horses" made of barrels suspended in air.
"(Another time) they had a forklift with a cage on top, and it was filled with go-go dancers," Ron said. "It was about 30 degrees, and they were freezing."
Last week, Ken Wieseman and his 10-year-old grandson, Chase Stubbs, put final touches on a float for Digger's Dugout, a bar and restaurant owned by Ken's girlfriend, Tracey Gregg.
Wieseman used old barn wood to build a bar for a Wild West dance hall, complete with a 1897 iron pot-bellied stove. Cowboys and saloon girls will throw beads to adults and candy to children.
"The parade is kid-friendly," said Wieseman, 55, a farmer in rural Worden. "Now later in the night, it gets kind of silly, but it's not like being downtown (in St. Louis)."
In addition to food at the two bars, Campbell House Market will sell boiled crawfish and Cajun-style chicken sandwiches. Worden Fire Department will man a booth with hot dogs and brats.
Wordi Gras founders Jeff and Staci Twardowsky, Walker Guesewelle, Greg Henke and A.J. have named the Lil' Billy D. Memorial Parade in honor of their friend, Billy Dittmar, who died in a car accident last summer at 23.
According to a press release, Worden invites "folks of all walks of life to come and get in touch with their inner hillbilly."
At a glance
What: Seventh annual Wordi Gras
When: Saturday afternoon and evening
Where: Worden's business district
Parade: 3 p.m. on Wall Street from Park to Shirley
Information: Call Ron East at Leo and Jan's Idle Hour at 618-459-3215 or A.J. Harshbarger at 618-910-7492 or visit the Wordi Gras Facebook page