Once again, Jefferson Parish stages its annual Family Gras (www.facebook.com/familygras; @familygras) — three nights and two days of Mardi Gras fun geared toward kids as well as adults, with live music, food stands, costuming and parade pageantry.
Two Metairie parades will pass by the Family Gras area. On Friday, the Krewe of Excalibur will roll past in its 13th annual procession, and on Saturday, it's the Krewe of Caesar, known for its elaborate neon-lit floats. The Krewe of Atlas parade normally brings Family Gras to a close on Sunday night, but Atlas announced last month it will not roll this year.
Friday night's music lineup consists of local favorites Amanda Shaw and Cowboy Mouth (the latter has played every Family Gras). Saturday features The Sizzlin' Band, the NOLA Super Group, Steve Augeri (lead singer of Journey from 1998 to 2006), The Voice winner Cassadee Pope, The X-Factor contestant Cher Lloyd and The Orchestra (consisting of former members of Electric Light Orchestra).
On Sunday, the lineup includes Blood Sweat & Tears featuring American Idol contestant Bo Bice, as well as Courtney Cole, Danielle Bradbery, Wilson Phillips and Montgomery Gentry.
Admission is free, but a "VIP Royal Pass" ($99; available at www.ticketmaster.com through Feb. 20) allows backstage access, prime parade and stage viewing, and access to VIP food and beverage stations.
Friday, Feb. 21
7 p.m. (should reach the festival grounds about 8 p.m.)
Theme: A Knight at the Renaissance Fair
King: Patrick Bain
Queen: Toni Sullivan-Adams
Throws: fedoras, lighted wands, necklaces, bracelets, yo-yos, logo beads
The Knights of Camelot and Ladies of Avalon time travel to the familiar surroundings of a contemporary renaissance fair. Floats depict jousting and medieval games, Celtic culture, Brighton Castle and more. Prized throws include miniature wooden shields hand-decorated by krewe members. Guest riders include The Top Cats and Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni.
Saturday, Feb. 22
6 p.m. (should reach the festival grounds about 7 p.m.)
King: John Roche Jr.
Queen: Nicole DaLeo
Throws: lighted lanyards, slap bracelets, and plush Caesar axes, dogs and leopards
The krewe marks its 35th anniversary with a special gold doubloon, but the rest is all fun and games. The theme focuses primarily on children's games, including Monopoly, Where's My Water and Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. Guest riders include New Orleans Saints punter Thomas Morstead and other players. Black and gold football beads will likely be a popular throw.