Monday, October 27, 2014

#255: Six Flags St. Louis

One of the happiest, funnest (and farthest) places to be in St. Louis is Six Flags! And has been, for 43 years and counting. I would usually make it out there once a year, or maybe every other year since I was about 10. There's never a dull moment there, unless you're like me and getting older, riding those thrill rides seems to suck your energy and wear you out! Nah, not trying to be a downer. But its the closest to Disneyland any St. Louisan can be, and there's always some sort of happy spirit in the air for all ages. It also took me long to get this cake, and had to wait nearly the last minute (see explanation below).

It was the third Six Flags theme park, and it opened near Eureka in 1971. This was the ultimate getaway for any family who wanted to spend the day at the amusement park. It was not, however, the first to be in St. Louis. There are a few smaller amusement parks that once existed before (and now long-defunct). One notable park is the old Chain of Rocks Park which existed for 50 years (1927 to 1977) which provided a carnival-like experience with its own thrill rides, just along the Riverview bluffs. Not surprisingly, Six Flags put them out of business. But Six Flags continues to thrive, year after year, adding (and sometimes subtracting) rides and attractions in the process. There were a few bumps in the road, however, one of them being the Sky-Way ride accident (3 people were killed and 1 was seriously injured when their car fell off the now-defunct ride).

I wish I can describe the full history of the theme park on here, but Wikipedia does it just greatly. Some of the years when certain rides opened surprised me on how long they've been there. I can't believe its been 25 years since the Ninja has been there! And I still can't believe they took away Tom's Twister! Everyone probably has their own memories of riding the rides over the years. I know I sure do. For the record, every time I'm there I always make it a priority to ride the Batman and Mr. Freeze rides at least 3 times both! And yes, I do enjoy going upside-down and going fast and high on those rides. Plus, those two rides usually have the shortest lines, at least when I'm there.

Hurricane Harbor is also a fun part of Six Flags, which was a water park added in 2000. Lots of good food are in sight, including those turkey legs and those 1904 World's Fair-style ice cream cones! You'll also see the shameless plugs of all the Warner Brothers-owned brands and characters. First, you got the Looney Tunes characters, then all the Detective Comics team (hopefully you know who I'm talking about!). In fact, it has already been announced there will be a special Justice League ride for 2015, possibly to coincide with the new movie that will come out at the same time.
The Six Flags company as a whole was founded in 1962 in Texas. The six flags represent the six nations that have governed the state of Texas: Spain, the United States, France, the republic of Texas, Mexico and the Confederate States of America. Today there are Six Flags theme parks all over America, from Chicago to New England, from California to Maryland. Six Flags St. Louis was known as Six Flags Mid-America from 1971 to 1996.
Batman riders are about to go down (what I call) the death spiral drop!
I tried to get as much as I could in the background, not just the fountain. You can see the Colossus there for a bit
This was the third time I attempted to get this cake. Unfortunately on my part, I skipped out on going inside the park this year, as I was trying to limit my budget all year. But I'll be back next year. Anyway, I tried getting the cake twice back in August, after they closed during the week. The guards would not let me in, even to see the cake. I thought it was very shady on their part, as I've heard others have had success stories about getting in while they were closed. So I finally made it all the way out there in late October, during Fright Fest season.

The sides of the cake, which have an animal/zoo-like celebration theme:
Right side of the cake

Back side of the cake

Top of the cake

Left side of the cake
For some cool, vintage photos of Six Flags circa the 70s/80s, I highly recommend checking out this page!

Six Flags St. Louis on FB
Wikipedia link
Official website

NOW: Currently being fostered to take part in a future 'Cakewalk'!

4900 Six Flags St. Louis Railroad, EUREKA, MO, 63069
Cake artist: Don Strohmeyer

Saturday, October 25, 2014

#254: Columbia Bottom Conservation Area

It's a sad feeling, and a happy one at the same time. As I write this post on October 25th, today was the celebration of the final stl250 cake placement. About 100 people showed up for the unveiling of the Columbia Bottom cake, not far from the Visitors Center. Several cake-hunters and enthusiasts, the media, Erin B., and the artist (Rich Brooks) attended the event. I didn't get to go, so it was quite a bummer (video may come on here soon! stay tuned...). After getting off work, I did arrive about 3 hours late from when it started. Still, it's the first (and last) time that I visited a cake the day it was placed. But from what I hear, it was a very cool gathering for everyone.

I thought it was even cooler that they put it in at least one of the confluence parks in the northern part of the St. Louis area. To me it would either have been between Columbia Bottom and the Edward & Pat Jones Confluence Park. (I actually visited the latter two days ago and I must say, it was very nice and peaceful) It's great to pay tribute to one of the things that made St. Louis what it is, and that's the meeting of two major rivers in the United States.

Alright, are the facts about Columbia Bottom:

  • The land was purchased in 1997 to create an urban conservation area. It is 4,256 acres.
  • The land includes a 110-acre island, and about 800 acres of bottomless forest.
  • A village/town once existed on the land, called Columbia, which later became St. Vrain. Probably due to obvious reasons (that it was on a flood plain), the town was no more by 1870.
  • One of the missions of the Missouri Department of Conservation (which manages the area) is to help restore the habitat and scenery which matched the voyage of Lewis & Clark.
  • Several activities can be done by the visitors. Hiking, fishing, horseback riding (seasonal) and bird watching are just a few to name. 
  • Many trails can be accessed in this area, and several markers contain information about either history and/or the habitats that venture on the land.

The sign off the road
Visitors center
Just a look inside the Visitors Center
A map of the place (and the cake in the background!)
And did I mention you can access the confluence point between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers?! It is about a few miles from the Visitors Center, but the seemingly long drive to the point is worth looking into. After all, it is one of the very few places in the US where two major rivers meet. I took several pictures of the place, and I wish I can post them all. But here's 3 you may enjoy:

Across from the viewing area is the Edward & Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park

This is an amazing pic of where the Missouri River visibly flows into the Mississippi. If you look very closely you can see the Confluence Tower (on the other side of the river(s)).

The cake sides, which fittingly, feature a Fall theme:
Right side of the cake

Back side of the cake

Left side of the cake

Top of the cake (that is Nancy Raymond in the background, in case you're wondering!)

Columbia Bottom Conservation Area on FB
Wikipedia link
Official website (through the Missouri Department of Conservation website)

NOW: Auctioned off for $505 from On private property.

801 Strodtman Rd, ST. LOUIS, MO, 63138  (it is close to Spanish Lake)
Cake artist: Rich Brooks

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

#253: The second Ameren cake

Not many people knew that Ameren had a second cake all along. Story goes like this: since Ameren was one of the most generous sponsors for the stl250 organization, they requested a second cake for just the employees of Ameren. I don't know when they got it, but it was supposedly decorated by the Ameren staff and workers. It was only accessible to the employees and their guests, who were on restricted property. Ameren, by the way, is heavily guarded all around their headquarters. You may already know from experience if you got their official cake outside.

Come early October 2014 and the cake makes a special appearance alongside their 'other' cake. This was believed to be part of the occasion for a get-together (or company picnic, or some such thing) which is usually held this time of the year for Ameren workers. Several, I mean several, scores of obsessed cake-hunters (myself included) hurried the first October weekend to get that cake! It was believed that it was originally going to disappear again. On October 6, it was announced that Ameren will keep their second cake open to the public for the rest of the year. So, it gave people less reason to worry and to add another cake to lists.

This is not an official 'STL250' cake, but I am including it since it is was made on the typical fiberglass cake model used by all the others. Plus, it is so unique in its own way, like all the other cakes. It will probably not be mentioned on the stl250 website cake list. But, while its there, my advice to any caker is to go out there (again) and get a snapshot of it!

Here are the sides of the unique cake, which provide a pictoral history:

Top of the cake
Left side of the cake

Back side of the cake

And lastly, the two cakes side by side:

NOW: Both Ameren cakes are no longer on public display.

1901 Chouteau Ave., ST. LOUIS, MO, 63103
Cake artist: Rudy Zapf  (she decorated the other Ameren cake too)

#252: The 'Traveling Cake' 1

One of the first of two 'traveling cakes' that were leftover from the stl250 organization, these have no permanent location. Instead, these are making appearances at special events around St. Louis. As of this writing (10/12/2014), the second one has not been public yet. This traveling cake first made an appearance at the Art Fair (in the Shaw neighborhood) in mid-September 2014. Its next location was at Clayton High School, just down the street from Brown Shoe Company. This was where I captured the shot at. I don't think Clayton High School had any historical or other types of significance, but it was their Homecoming week so that's why it was there for that time. I'm just glad I was able to get it while I could!

According to people in the Facebook group 'Stl250 Unofficial Cakeway to the West', this cake was originally supposed to go to Purina Farms, but supposedly they chose the cake Charlie Houska did over Paul LeFlam's. LeFlam's had the Purina's trademark checkerboard logo around the base of the cake, according to an insider. But LeFlam decided to re-decorate, posting cartoon characters from a span of 100 years.
Left side of the cake, featuring Tweety Bird and Scooby Doo

Back side of the cake, featuring Odie (from Garfield comics)

Right side of the cake, featuring Felix the Cat

Top of the cake, with the checkerboard

Its artist, Paul LeFlam, posted to the group his side of the story:

"Here is the story of The Cartoon cake. Some of it is fictional, some is not.

The Cartoon cake is a repaint, so I decided that since it was not dedicated to a specific spot I would go with a fun format for the cake, that led to the celebration theme. I officially titled the cake, “Let’s Celebrate”

The following could be and most certainly is pure fiction. I sent out a call for anyone that had a fun attitude, people would recognize and wanted to be portrayed on a public expression of Art. Soon after I received a call from someone that said they were an actor and wanted to help me acquire prominent figures of television history to participate in the celebration of our 250th year birthday festivities, he informed me that his name was Rocky.

During a lengthy conversation with me, he relayed to me that he had a lot of friends that would love to be portrayed on the cake and kept insisting that he had a lot of “Friends” After we’re into our conversation for a while I’m thinking, Rocky and Friends, where do I know that from, however that train of thought soon dissipated during our conversation With his personable attitude and the fact he informed me that if needed he could “fly in” if needed for a face to face meeting, I told him that wasn’t necessary. He guaranteed me that he would influence his friends and have them get in contact with me. The response was overwhelming, after numerous phone calls I saw that things were getting out of hand and I had to start declining requests, someone named Mickey and Minnie were very disappointed .

As to the cat with red stripes, he was very mysterious,, hangs out in France and spoke very little English and I know maybe 10 words in French, that made for an interesting conversation. I agreed to include him on the cake. I think he won an Academy Award or something."

Kids taking a close look at the cake while it was on display at the Thomas Dunn Learning Center (11/8/2014)
NOW: Auctioned off for $815 on On private property.

Cake artist: Paul LeFlam

#251: Express Scripts

One of the few lastly-placed cakes was put at Express Scripts, one of St. Louis' most successful corporations who proudly makes their home here. The headquarters is located directly across from UMSL.
  • As of 2013, it is a Fortune 100 company, ranking 20th as the biggest revenue generator. 
  • It is the largest pharmacy benefit management company in the U.S.
  • The company was founded in St. Louis (1986) as part of a joint venture between Medicare Glaser (79 stores) and Sanus Corp. Health Systems.
  • The company became a public trader in 1992.
  • It services include home-delivery pharmacy services, drug-utilization review, and network-pharmacy claims processing, among many others.
  • Also specializes in workers compensation prescription insurance as well as reinsurance.
The sign

One of three of its buildings (this was taken right next to the UMSL cake on top of the hill)

Pics of the cake:
Back side of the cake

Left side of the cake

Right side of the cake

Top of the cake
Two cakes in one picture? Yeahhh, why not?

Express Scripts on Twitter
Wikipedia link
Official website

NOW: Still there

8455 University Place Dr., ST. LOUIS, MO, 63121
Cake artist: Mark Swain