JEFFERSON —Mardi Gras goers braved cool temperatures on Thursday to celebrate the kick off of the 31st Mardi Gras Upriver weekend in downtown Jefferson, hosted by the Krewe of Hebe.
This year’s weekend started with the Friends and Family Night Carnival on Thursday and guests warmed up with warm food and fun carnival rides in the parking lot behind the historic Marion County Courthouse which is currently under restoration.
Mardi Gras Upriver “Holidays on the Bayou” weekend event is set for today, Saturday and Sunday in downtown Jefferson.
The carnival will remain throughout the weekend and wristbands are available for sale on site.
This year’s Mardi Gras Upriver Queen is Frances Turner, who is joined by King Jimmy Moore. Both Moore and Turner were crowned by outgoing king and queen Kim and Steve Shaw and will be featured on the king and queen’s float during the Saturday parade.
Patrons to this year’s Mardi Gras Upriver weekend are encouraged to join in the festivities by wearing their best Mardi Gras gear, or by dressing in their favorite holiday attire, Krewe of Hebe President Amanda Turner said.
Guests will also be able to shop at the official Krewe of Hebe souvenir booth, located inside the old Jefferson Police Station beside the Jefferson General Store on Austin Street.
“This year’s theme is Holiday on the Bayou and it’s set for Feb. 21, 22 and 23,” Turner said. “This year, each float is a holiday. We have a St. Patty’s Day float, a Christmas float, Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, Armed Forces Day and even an Elvis’ birthday float so far.”
Jefferson’s 31st annual Mardi Gras Upriver weekend, which sees thousands visit the town each year, will feature live music in its downtown concert tent, craft and retail vendors, as well as food vendors and the carnival.
“In our Entertainment Tent this year, we have five bands, including two local artists, Wes Jeans and Adrian Johnston,” she said.
Turner said the renovation of the historic Marion County Courthouse which is currently underway will require parade goers to find alternative locations to stand and observe the parade.
“The parade route will not change. Safety is always our priority each year so parade goers will need to spread out on Austin Street and find alternative places to stand and observe the parade rather than standing in front of the courthouse,” she said. “There is a barricade around the courthouse so that doesn’t leave much room for people to stand in front of it while still allowing room for the parade to safely go by.”
Turner said alternative streets to stand and observe the parade are Vale and Polk Streets.
“We usually have the parade announcers and judges on the courthouse steps during the parade but this year they will be moved to the top patio on Sammy’s Prime Time Steakhouse,” she said.
Parades will include the DooDah Parade at 7 p.m. Friday, the Grand Parade at 2 p.m. Saturday preceded by the motorcycle parade at 1:45 p.m. and the children’s parade at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Turner advised guests to Mardi Gras Upriver weekend to follow the Krewe’s Facebook page and check their website for a full event line up and updates throughout the weekend.
The Facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/MardiGrasUpriverJeffersonTexas/
“Safety is our priority,” Turner said. “We want everyone, our parade participants and bead catchers, to have a great time and be safe.”
The Mardi Gras Upriver website can be found by visiting https://www.mardigrasupriver.com/