Metairie’s young Argus queen draws strength from Carnival legacy _lowres

Photo by Wally Porter -- Madeline Cvitanovich, this year's queen of Argus, is flanked by her parents and grandparents at the Argus coronation party at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters at City Park. From left are Madeline's grandmother Klara Cvitanovich; her father, Tommy Cvitanovich; her grandfather Drago Cvitanovich; and her mother, Leanne Cvitanovich.

Amid the whirlwind of Carnival festivities, Madeline Cvitanovich is taking an easygoing attitude about her royal commitments, rolling with whatever comes her way.

“I’m really not that easygoing of a person,” Madeline laughed. “I’m actually a little high-maintenance. But I made up my mind that since I was not familiar with all my responsibilities this Mardi Gras, I would just go with the flow and let my family and friends help and guide me along the way.”

As she prepares to reign as the Queen Argus XXXI in Metairie on Fat Tuesday, Madeline, a senior at Mount Carmel Academy, will join others in her family as part of Mardi Gras history.

Her mother, Leanne, reigned as queen of Endymion in 1987. Her father, Tommy, was king of Argus in 2005 and reigned as king of the Washington, D.C., Mardi Gras ball in 2012. Grandfather Drago Cvitanovich was Argus in 1995, and her uncle Gerry Cvitanovich led Argus as king in 1998.

Although her duties as queen may, at times, seem to overwhelm her, Madeline, who resides in Metairie, does have some firsthand experience. In Argus, she was a junior maid in 1998, a princess in 2005 and a maid in 2011.

“Those experiences were really great, and each one has helped me prepare for my role as queen,” said Madeline, 18. “But having family members so closely involved with Mardi Gras and with Argus for so many years is a big benefit. They have been a huge help to me, especially with certain protocol and duties I am not familiar with as queen.”

During Carnival season, Madeline has been busy with many special events and responsibilities. The Argus coronation party at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters in City Park was in September, and a tea was held for Madeline and her court in December at the home of Argus co-Captain Lawrence Chehardy and his wife, Micki. Madeline attended the Washington, D.C., Mardi Gras celebration the weekend of Jan. 23 with her family.

For the past four years, Madeline has been a cheerleader for the Jesuit High School Blue Jay marching band; she marched with the band in the Krewe of Carrollton parade on Feb. 8 and will march again this Sunday with the Krewe of Bacchus.

Other Carnival festivities on the horizon include the Argus ball Friday at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner and then the Endymion extravaganza Saturday night.

And up next is the annual Rivertown Lundi Gras celebration Monday in Kenner, where Madeline and her king, Johnny Matesich, will meet to toast the king and queen of Zulu, Andrew “Pete” Sanchez Jr. and his wife, Dr. Janice Sanchez.

“I am so grateful to my parents for this experience,” said Madeline, the oldest of four children. “I would be lost without their love, help and their support.”

As she prepares for her royal ride Fat Tuesday, Madeline said she is hoping for “good weather and that everyone, whether they are going to Mardi Gras in New Orleans or in Metairie, will have a safe and enjoyable time.”

And yet there is one royal responsibility that Madeline admits she is a bit anxious about.

“I am a little nervous about the toast and speech I have to make at the reviewing stand along Veterans Memorial Boulevard,” she said. “But I’m sure that when the time comes, I will know what to say to express my gratitude for this honor and for what has been the best experience of my life.”