Going to Family Gras? Here’s everything to know about the new upgrades for 2019

Jefferson Parish officials have set the stage for the biggest upgrade to Metairie Mardi Gras in a generation. The Jefferson Parish Carnival celebration takes place at the new, larger Clearview Center concert venue on Friday, Feb. 22 to Sunday, Feb. 24.

Here’s a rundown of everything parade-goers need to know to enjoy a most memorable experience including: New routes; pre- and post-parade entertainment; a new, larger location for Family Gras; a bead-recycling program to support charity; and text alerts to keep the public informed with any parade updates.

Photo courtesy: Family Gras/Visit Jefferson Parish

NEW WESTBOUND ROUTE: Most Metairie Mardi Gras parades (Excalibur, Kings, Centurions, Athena, & Pandora) will be taking a new route, beginning along Bonnabel Blvd. (north of Veterans Blvd.) and traveling westbound on Veterans Blvd. to end at Clearview Center. Residents living on Bonnabel Blvd. may access their homes by vehicle up until one hour before westbound parades begin.

Photo courtesy: Family Gras

Related: Brett Eldredge, Michael McDonald, John Oats headline Family Gras 2019

“Bonnabel is a vibrant neighborhood, and families there told us they weren’t always able to enjoy the parades due to their late arrival,”councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken said. “By starting the parade in the neighborhood, more families will be able to host parties and really enjoy the festivities. We’re also sponsoring some pre-parade entertainment to add to the family-fun at the beginning of the new route.”

PRE-PARADE ENTERTAINMENT: Before Friday and Sunday evening parades on Bonnabel Blvd. (between Nero St. and Veterans Blvd.), parade-goers adjacent to the line-up of floats, will be entertained with face-painting, caricatures, balloon art, clowning, and stilt-walking.

NEW FAMILY GRAS SITE: In 2019, the Jefferson Convention & Visitors Bureau will stage Family Gras at Clearview Center, located at 4436 Veterans Blvd., Metairie, LA 70006. Attendees are in for a treat this year as all krewes parading on Family Gras weekend (Excalibur, Caesar, and Kings) will roll through the middle of Family Gras, giving festival-goers the opportunity to catch both the concert and some beads.

POST-PARADE ENTERTAINMENT: Following the parades at Family Gras, musical headliners (Brett Eldredge, John Oates & The Good Road Band, and Michael McDonald) will take the stage to entertain crowds and krewes. While on Sunday, March 3rd, 2019, the all-female krewes of Athena and Pandora, in partnership with Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken and the Yenni Administration, will host a special “Ladies Night” Post-Parade Party at Clearview Center for parade-goers to celebrate with krewe members.

Source: Family Gras

BEAD-RECYCLING PROGRAM: Don’t know what to do with beads and throws after a parade? Throw them back! A new ordinance allows parade-goers at the end of Metairie Mardi Gras parades to toss unwanted trinkets and beads back into a charitable donation truck. Arc of Greater New Orleans will use these reclaimed carnival throws to create wage-earning jobs for individuals with intellectual disabilities by collecting, sorting, repacking, and selling Mardi Gras throws for future parades.

Photo courtesy: John Snell

TEXT ALERTS: Anyone planning to attend Mardi Gras events in Jefferson Parish may sign up to receive parade updates via text messaging. By texting “JPMARDIGRAS” to 888777, people will receive updates and alerts regarding parade routes, weather, entertainment, and more. (Standard message rates apply)

“We know that these are big changes for many people, but we hope these changes will provide a better experience for the spectator on the street and for those riding in the parades as well,” said parish president Michael Yenni.

“It’s an exciting time for carnival in Jefferson Parish,” explained Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken.  “We’re rebuilding, we’re experimenting, we’re creating something truly unique and original for our riders and residents. However people choose to celebrate carnival, whether it’s on the safety of our streets, the thrill of our floats, taking a healthy run in the Mardi Gras 5K, or cheering at Family Gras, we want everyone to have a great time!”

For more information about Family Gras, visit: www.FamilyGras.com.