Argus monarchs decree day of joy

Taking your place aboard a float as a member of a Carnival organization is an experience in and of itself. But when you are riding as the monarch, the occasion becomes even more special.

“I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am,” said Raymond Brandt, who will reign as king of Argus in Metairie on Fat Tuesday. “This is a once in a lifetime event. The only thing I can liken it to is when a major league baseball player hits a home run. The feeling that player feels inside must be extraordinary. So that is how I am feeling right now, like I have hit a home run.”

A native New Orleanian who is a successful owner of several car dealerships throughout the metropolitan area, Brandt grew up in Gentilly, attended St. Leo the Great Elementary School and graduated from St. Aloysius High School. He holds three degrees from Loyola University — undergraduate, master’s and law.

Brandt, 65, is also busy with community work, serving on several boards, including the Foundation Board and the Business Advisory Board of the University of New Orleans; the National Nissan Dealers Advisory Board; the state Board of Regents; and the board of Southern University of New Orleans. He is also chairman of the state Motor Vehicles Commission.

“I am busy every day of the week and that’s a good thing,” Brandt said. “I enjoy working in the community and doing my part to help in some way.”

Reigning as king of Argus has its added responsibilities.

“I never realized all the details involved,” Brandt said. “You have to get fitted for and then order your boots, which are handmade. You have to get two crowns and two scepters, you have appointments for fittings for your wig and costume, and for certain events, you have to get your makeup done properly. Oh, and you need to take care of your doubloon and additional throw orders as well. There is a great deal of planning and details that go into all of this, but thankfully, there are a lot of special people who work behind the scenes who keep you on track and help you along the way.”

The Argus ball is Friday at the Pontchartain Center in Kenner. The event includes the presentation of the royal courts followed by a black tie dinner party. And Brandt has invited a few of his close friends and business associates.

“I have about 150 people who are coming to the ball as my guests to celebrate with me, my wife Jessica, and our family,” Brandt said. “And many of them will be attending the parade on Mardi Gras as well. I have enjoyed everything so much, and I am hoping our family and friends have a wonderful time too.”

Prior to the parade, Brandt and his queen, Lydia Netterville, will greet the king and queen of Zulu, Cedric Givens and Monica Givens, at a special Lundi Gras celebration in Rivertown beginning at 10 a.m.

“The meeting of these two courts in Rivertown has become such a wonderful event,” Brandt said. “It is just one of the many things that make the tradition of Mardi Gras really special on so many levels.”

Brandt said as king of Argus, he hopes that everyone who watches and rides in the parade stays safe and that “everyone just relaxes and enjoys Fat Tuesday.”

“There are a tremendous number of people both in front of and behind the scenes who work very hard all year long to make the Carnival season and all the parades something we all can enjoy,” Brandt said.

“Fat Tuesday will be a tremendous day for me, and I look forward to being with the citizens of Jefferson Parish, the place I love so much.

“It’s an honor to reign as king of Argus and to share not only in the spirit but also in the history of Mardi Gras.”