by Sam Levin
In Worden, Illinois, the number of revelers at the party tomorrow will be bigger than the town's entire population. A lot bigger.
The event is Wordi Gras, or as they like to call it, Redneck Mardi Gras.
"Anything goes," says Ron East, a bar manager locally that helps organize the event. "There's no theme -- the theme is just redneck."
And just how many people does Worden attract?
It was around 2,000 last year, says East, the manager at Leo and Jan's Idle Hour, at the center of the festivities.
The population in the village is around 900.
With increased press this year -- the seventh anniversary of Wordi Gras -- they're anticipating a lot more people.
"Just by all the phone calls we're getting...we're expecting quite a good crowd," says East.
It started when a group of friends seven years ago decided they didn't feel like going to Soulard.
"They stayed in town...and got in a pickup truck, came to the tavern...and threw some beads," he says. "The next year they had two trucks."
After several years, the group of buddies, many who had previously worked at the bar, began expanding the event, with the help of East and others.
"Every year, it has grown and grown," he says.
Now, they have a full-on parade and thousands show up -- not that it's very organized, he says.
"People show up in four-wheelers, dune buggies, you name it," he says. "They show up on lawnmowers."
Worden residents don't want to leave -- and now people from the outside want to join the party, he adds.
"We get a lot of people that don't want to fight the crowd [in Soulard]," East says. "They want to be closer to home and not have to make the drive. It's been a pretty good deal."
The parade starts Saturday at 3 p.m. centered around Leo and Jan's Idle Hour at 115 East Wall Street.
Continue for more photos of past Redneck Mardi Gras celebrations.
Continue for more photos.