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Al Copeland’s stage opens at Lafreniere Park

It started out as a grandiose statue to honor the late Al Copeland, but after a lot of controversy and re-planning, it morphed into the Al Copeland concert meadow, a huge open-air stage in the center of Lafreniere Park.

Officials cut the ribbon Wednesday morning to inaugurate the permanent music venue inside the Metairie park.

Copeland, who passed away five years ago, after a long bout with cancer, left behind his well-known and successful chain of restaurants and a philanthropic organization called “The Al Copeland Foundation.” The foundation also gave a $25,000 gift to LSU Health Sciences Center to assist in the fight to find a cure for cancer.

“Al Copeland,  Jr. and the Copeland Foundation have made it their intention to make sure that they find a cure for that disease and all types of cancer also,” Ben Zahn of the Jefferson Parish Council told WGNO’s Jon Huffman. “So it’s important that things that have been donated to LSU Medical Center, in conjunction with Lafreniere Park with this stage. I believe that this is a major monument, a major symbol for what they’re trying to do to rid the world of that disease.”

The concert stage will have its official opening on Thursday at 6 p.m. when Band Camp takes the stage. The performance is free and open to the public.

Today was the official groundbreaking for the Al Copeland Concert Meadows Stage at Metairie’s Lafreniere Park.

Ultimately, the stage will be accompanied by a memorial garden and a statue of the late Popeyes founder.

The entire project is being funded by the Copeland family and the Al Copeland Foundation for cancer research.

Friday morning there’s going to be a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Al Copeland Memorial Stage in Lafrenire Park. It’s the Copeland family’s way of honoring the famous Popeyes founder. But what’s not going to be built at least not right away is a statue in Al’s honor.

A spokesperson for the Copeland family says construction of an Al Copeland statue in Lafreniere Park will be delayed.

The parish council is adjusting the construction schedule for the project.  Friday, the parish will break ground on the music stage portion.

Work on Copeland’s statue and the garden incorporated with it will come at a later date.

Parish leaders are expected to release more details Friday at 11:00 am during the project’s official groundbreaking.

Final plans for the Al Copeland memorial in Lafreniere Park include more than  just a statue of the  Popeye’s fried chicken founder.

Expected to be built is a brand new stage, serenity garden and a revised statue of Al Copeland.

Copeland’s family and Jefferson Parish officials found middle ground after the first Al Copeland statue didn`t go over so well.

The Copeland family will finance the permanent stage for music and be named Al Copeland Concert Gardens.

The stage is designed to be cost effective and bring more concerts and people to the park.

The price tag for the stage, garden and statue project is estimated to cost the Copeland family between four and five hundred thousand dollars and be completed in the next three to four months.

Copelands-tribute-11(from JEFFERSON PARISH) – This Friday morning, after months of discussion and redesign, members of the Lafreniere Park Advisory Board, the Lafreniere Park Patrons Board, Jefferson Parish Councilman Ben Zahn and Al Copeland, Jr. will unveil the agreed-upon, final design for a Copeland family-funded tribute to the late Al Copeland, Sr. to be placed in the park.

At a Friday 11 a.m. news conference at the Yenni Building, Zahn, Copeland, Chairman of the Patrons of Lafreniere Park Bob Emery and Chairmember of the Lafreniere Park Advisory Board Ginger Crawford will explain the process toward final design and elaborate on the benefits of a private/public partnership. The new design will now feature a sprawling serenity garden, memorial statue and performance stage that better fits the park’s master plan.

Several members of organizations who are organized in the fight against cancer will address the ongoing benefit of the new Copeland tribute in the park. Initial designs for the Copeland memorial were rejected by Councilman Zahn, park advisory board members and park patron board members because the designs were not considered to be appropriate for the park.

Said Zahn, “Though we were pleased and eager to employ private funding toward park upgrades, we could not approve the Roman amphitheater design that was not complimentary to the park’s master plan. We worked closely with the Copeland family members, its management team and the loyal members of the park’s volunteer boards to agree upon an appropriate design that would memorialize the achievements of one of our area’s most successful entrepreneurs while improving park grounds for generations to come. We have achieved our mutual goals.”

Said Emery, “We will present a refined design that will enhance the park’s beauty and use. We have come a long way from the original renderings to approve a distinctive and discriminating tribute to a successful Jefferson Parish businessman’s legacy. Specifically, the stage will add value to the park and attract more live performances to the area. The construction of the stage will save tax payer dollars and citizens will be able to enjoy the amenity upon completion. We believe that the public will embrace our final design, and we also believe appropriate private/public partnerships will further develop Lafreniere Park into one of Louisiana’s premiere, peaceful and picturesque attractions.”

Copeland Family Push For Memorial Statue

Friday, the final plans for an Al Copeland tribute at Lafreniere Park will be unveiled at a news conference at the Yenni Building.

The Lafreniere Park Advisory and Patrons boards as well as some Jefferson Parish Council members will participate in the announcement.

The new design will feature a serenity garden, memorial statue, and a performance stage are all part of the plans.


laf park An Al Copeland Memorial Statue, and music stage could soon be built in Lafreniere Park.

Lafreniere Park is a tranquil place, nestled in the heart of Jefferson Parish.

It features, a two-mile track, a dog park, and the Robert Deviney Jr. Foundation Center.

But it has not had a music stage since Hurricane Katrina.

“I’d be nice to have a nice big stage over there,” park goer Tony Rodriguez said.

If Al Copeland’s family members have their way, there could soon be a stage built for musical performances — and a statue in the late fried chicken king’s image.

“I think the stage is definitely a good idea, it would definitely add something to the park since that’s not something that they have,” park goer Brooke Champagne said.

The Copeland family has been negotiating with Jefferson Parish officials.

They’ve reportedly offered to pay an estimated $150-thousand dollars to build a permanent stage in the Metairie park; as long as an Al Copeland Memorial Statue is part of the deal.

The initial design proposal included a life-sized statue of the eccentric businessman, holding a box of Popeye’s fried chicken, a checkered racing flag, and a speedboat.

That design was rejected.

“Yeah the design itself was inappropriate as well as the placement. So it didn’t fit with what anybody wanted,” Robert Emery said.

Emery heads the Patrons of Lafreniere Park.

He says all parties are working toward a plan that’s acceptable.

“This is a public park,” Emery explained. “All we’re trying to do is enhance its usability.”

We asked members of the public about the memorial statue.

“Here in the park, I think it’d be pretty cool,” Rodriguez said.

But the idea hasn’t been fully embraced by all.

Some off-camera comments include the words, ridiculous, and disgusting.

“I can maybe understand why, but I don’t think it’s something that’s a big controversy,” Champagne said. “I mean it’s a statue.”

One couple thinks the sticking point is perhaps more about finding an acceptable statue design that would not be disruptive.

“I think maybe a popular stance or what he was wearing will be suitable,” park goer Chris DeJesus said.

Time will tell.

Conversations with the Copeland’s and parish leaders continue.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter asked, “Think they’ll come up with something? Oh they’ll come up with something. Sure,” Rodriguez replied. “I’m sure there’s some money on the table.”

The Parish Council is scheduled to meet Wednesday to vote on an agreement.

If approved the Copeland’s would like to fast track the project, in hopes of having the stage and statue completed this summer.