The madness of Mardi Gras is upon us with parades and other special events scheduled to get under way over the next two weeks.

The Jefferson Parish parades schedule is:

Friday:Krewe of Excalibur at 7 p.m., and the Krewe of Atlas at 7:30 p.m., Metairie.

Saturday:Krewe of Alla, noon, West Bank, and the Krewe of Caesar, 6 p.m., Metairie.

Feb. 8:Krewe of Centurions, 7 p.m., Metairie.

Feb. 9:Krewe of Isis, 6:30 p.m., Metairie.

Feb. 10: Corps de Napoleon, 5:30 p.m., Metairie.

Feb. 11, Lundi Gras: Krewe of Hera, 6:30 p.m., and the Krewe of Zeus, 7 p.m., Metairie.

Feb. 12, Mardi Gras:Krewe of Argus, 10.a.m., followed by the Elks Jeffersonians and the Krewe of Jefferson.

Also on Fat Tuesday, the Krewe of Grela returns to Gretna and is scheduled to roll at 10 a.m.

In addition to the parades, don’t forget to stop by the sixth annual Family Gras celebration in Metairie on Friday from 2 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday from noon to 7:30 p.m.

Everything takes place on the neutral ground along Veterans Memorial Boulevard between Causeway Boulevard and Severn Avenue. There are 10 musical acts scheduled. On Friday, Amanda Shaw, Fitz and the Tantrums, Katie Armiger, Soul Asylum and Creedence Clearwater Revisted will perform. And on Saturday, ZZ Ward, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Cowboy Mouth, Blues Traveler and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons are the scheduled performers.

There also will be food booths and an arts market featuring several local artists and crafters.

Jumping to Lundi Gras

Two special Lundi Gras celebrations are planned in East Jefferson.

First, the newly formed Krewe of Hera, along with the long-running Krewe of Zeus, will sponsor a special celebration on Feb. 11 beginning at noon.

Lundi Fest will be held along Veterans Square on Veterans Memorial Boulevard near Causeway Boulevard in Metairie. Admission is free.

Food and refreshments will be available provided by Hurricane’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Voodoo Barbeque, Loretta’s Authentic Pralines, Arby’s, LaDelyo’s Creole Catering, Big Easy Roasted Corn and Gennaro’s Bar.

Musical acts include the Vettes, the Lagniappe Brass Band and the Revivalists, who were recently nominated for seven Off Beat Magazine awards, including best album.

There also will be face painting, crafts and stilt walkers.

“We have a great day planned,” said Brian Landry with the Krewe of Zeus. “It’s going to be a lot of fun for the community. Mardi Gras is our passion. We’re excited about the day and the start of something new for Jefferson Parish.”

The krewes invites everyone to participate and get into the Carnival spirit and wear costumes.

And Kenner’s Rivertown is the backdrop for the annual toast between the King and Queen of Argus, Raymond Brandt and Lydia Netterville, and the King and Queen of Zulu, Cedric Givens and Monica Givens.

Festivities get under way at 10 a.m. and include food, entertainment and arts and crafts. Kenner Mayor Mike Yenni will preside over the event.

The event is open to the public.

Guild fundraiser

The St. Vincent Infant and Maternity Guild will hold its annual luncheon and bingo on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the St. Dominic School gymnasium, 6326 Memphis St., New Orleans.

The event is the group’s major fundraiser and proceeds will benefit pro life services of Catholic Charities of New Orleans.

The cost is $20 per person and includes lunch and two bingo cards.

Reservations are required and the deadline is Friday.

For more information and to reserve a spot, call Cindy Wooderson at (504) 471-0715 or Marcy Mayeaux at (504) 779-7452.

Safe driving class

A four-hour AARP safe driving class will be held on Feb. 14 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Elmwood Fitness Center, 1200 S. Clearview Parkway, Harahan.

The class is open to all AARP members and non-members, 50 and older. All those completing the course will receive a certificate that may qualify them for a discount on their auto insurance for up to three years.

The cost for the class is $12 per person for AARP members and $14 for non-members.

For more information and to register for the course, call (504) 391-3213 between the hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Future classes at this same location are scheduled for April 18, June 20, Aug. 15, Oct. 17 and Dec. 12.

School open houses

Catholic schools in our area continue to hold open houses this week and again next week.

The schedule is:

Thursday: Our Lady of Perpetural Help, 531 Williams Blvd., Kenner, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Call (504) 464-0531; St. Clement of Rome, 3978 West Esplanade Ave., 7 p.m. Call (504) 888-0386; and St. Edward the Confessor, 4921 W. Metairie Ave., Metaiire, 9:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Call (504) 888-6353.

Wednesday: Our Lady of Divine Providence,917 N. Atlanta St., Metairie, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Call (504) 466-0591, and St. Christopher the Martyr, 3900 Derbigny St., Metairie. For the pre-K 2-year-olds to pre-K 4-year-old program at St. Christopher, hours are 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and for the kindergarten through eighth grades, hours are 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Call (504) 837-6871 for more information.

St. Louis King of France, 1600 Lake Ave., Metairie. Private tours are arranged with the principal. Call (504) 833-8224.

Wednesday mornings by appointment only: St. Matthew the Apostle, 10021 Jefferson Highway, River Ridge. Call (504) 737-4604.

Registration at all Catholic schools begin Feb. 25.

Eva Jacob Barkoff writes about Jefferson Parish. Contact her at