November marks the 35th anniversary of the dedication of Lafreniere Park, 160 acres of green space in Metairie that had a history of horse racing before becoming a place for recreation. The area once was a plantation owned by Nicholas Chauvin de La Freniere, the state's first attorney general. In 1954, the area became the Magnolia Park racing course. It was renamed Jefferson Downs in 1959. The racetrack was destroyed during Hurricane Betsy, and the land sat vacant for several years. In the early 1970s, more than 10,000 residents signed a petition urging Jefferson Parish leaders to purchase the land and develop a park there. The project was financed by a $5 million bond issue passed in 1973, plus $5 million in federal matching funds. Construction began in 1979 and the park was dedicated on Nov. 6, 1982. In addition to green space, lagoons, picnic areas and a jogging trail, the park also features a carousel, dog park, children's spray park and the Al Copeland Concert Meadow.