Lafreniere Park in Metairie, Louisiana features sports fields, a two-mile track, a golf area, dog parks, a carousel and special event spaces. Credit: Megastealer at en.wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

On Nov. 6, 1982, crowds gathered in Metairie’s Lafreniere Park for a long-awaited dedication ceremony. 

In 1720, Nicholas Chauvin de la Freniere was granted 5000 acres of land known then as Elmwood Plantation, from Louisiana Gov. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, sieur de Bienville. Freniere lived on the land with his wife and three children until he was executed on October 25, 1769 for his participation in a revolt against Spanish rulers.

The land was passed to his son, Nicolas Chauvin de la Freniere, Jr., who would later become Louisiana’s attorney general.

Before Lafreniere Park became the family-oriented, public recreation park it is today, it was the site of the Jefferson Downs Race Track. 

The land became available when Jefferson Downs was destroyed by Hurricane Betsy in 1965. (The track was later rebuilt in Kenner and remained there until its closure in 1992.)

More than 12,000 citizens supported redeveloping the space into a park. With the help of local officials, the project was approved for purchase and construction with a $5 million bond and another $5 million coming from the federal government.

Construction began for the park in 1977 and was completed in phases over the next several years. Much of the park was open to the public well before its 1982 dedication ceremony, which had originally been set for the previous year. According to a Nov. 7, 1982 article in The Times-Picayune, park officials delayed the event to allow for completion of the park’s pavilion. 

The Lafreniere Park Foundation and its advisory board secured donations from residents, local companies, and nonprofits to undertake several major projects for the park.  

Today, the park features five sports fields, two FIFA-certified soccer fields, a two-mile health track, a 21-hole disc golf area, two dog parks, an open meadow green space, a carousel and spray park for children, a marsh island, and multiple shelters for rent.

The Lafreniere Park also features Pavilion Island, the Foundation Center, and the Patio Garden for special events and small weddings.  

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Shannon Stecker is a creative writer, a marketing director, and a lover of stories. She has spent the past 15 years of her career in a creative space – as a print and broadcast journalist, a freelance...