It would be fair to say that Alexis Carroll Hartline’s daily schedule is filled almost to capacity, from early morning until late at night.
A senior at Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, Lexie, as she is known to family and friends, has been dancing since she was 2 years old and is a longtime member of the Hi-Steppers, the school’s competition dance team.
She is also a Student Council member an ambassador for Chapelle.
Lexie volunteers for various fundraisers for both Chapelle and Archbishop Rummel High School, and also helps area nonprofit organizations through the Ray and Jessica Brandt Family Foundation, including the American Heart Association, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Nola Goes Pink, the World War II Victory Ball and the World War II Spirit Awards.
She was a member of Rummel’s homecoming court last fall.
While balancing all of that, Lexie also has been going to dress fittings and attending parties and luncheons, all part of fulfilling her royal duties in preparation for her reign as Queen Argus XXXIV on Fat Tuesday.
“I found out I was going to be queen two years ago at a dinner hosted by my family,” Lexie said. “I thought it was a dinner for my grandfather’s birthday, but it was actually a surprise to announce I would be queen in 2018. It’s a dream come true.
“Several of my friends were at the dinner and they were thrilled for me. They couldn’t reveal to anyone until this year that I was going to be queen, and that included no posts on social media. My friends and my whole family have been very supportive and very excited for me.”
Lexie, 17, is the daughter of Julie and Darryl Hartline. Her grandfather, Ray Brandt, was king of Argus in 2013, and that same year, Lexie was a lady in waiting.
“I have also been a junior maid and a maid,” Lexie added. “I have enjoyed each role I’ve had in the royal courts of Argus.”
The theme for this year's ball and parade is “Argus Goes Under the Big Top.” The ball was held Jan. 19 at The Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, and the parades rolls at 10 a.m. Mardi Gras, taking the traditional Metairie route.
“It seems like only yesterday that Lexie was a little girl, so getting her ready for the ball really hit me — it was such an emotional day,” Julie Hartline said. “When it was her turn to come out at the ball, we were all in tears.
"And at one point, as Lexie walked past us, she made eye contact with her dad, me and her brother, Zach, and said ‘I love you all.’ I thought that was so sweet because that night was about her, but Lexie made sure we knew it was about us as well.”
“It was such an amazing night when the lights went down, the curtains opened and there was our beautiful, graceful, elegant, poised granddaughter,” added Lexie’s grandmother, Jessica Brandt.
“There are no words to describe the feelings and emotions that went through Ray and me at that moment. We were overwhelmed with pride, joy and happiness. It was a magical moment for our family.”
Lexie said her mother and grandmother have “done the most in preparing me for my reign.”
“My mom and grandmother took me to find all the dresses for each event and to all my fittings,” Lexie said. “We also went to Dynasty Crowns in Mobile, Alabama, to have my scepter and crown designed and made. And my mom and grandmother also helped in planning of all my parties and luncheons.”
Lexie’s gold gown is covered in French lace with handset Austrian and Swarovski crystals and seed pearls. The A-line dress is styled with a traditional Medici collar of matching gold lace and trimmed with more crystals. A gold mantle completes her gown.
The crown also is made of Austrian and Swarovski crystals. The back of the crown depicts two family trees, one for her mother’s family and one for her father’s, with birthstones of every family member on each tree.
“The crown reminds me of the love that my family carries for me each and every day,” Lexie said, adding that her scepter matches her crown.
Lexie called Argus XXXIV, Michael Maenza, “a fabulous king.”
“I am so pleased that Mike Maenza is my king,” Lexie said. “He’s witty, gracious and compassionate and has made Argus so much fun. He showed up at one of my luncheons and sang 'Sweet Caroline,' changing it to ‘my sweet Lexie.’ I am truly blessed to have such a kind and fun king.”
On Fat Tuesday, before boarding the queen’s float, Lexie and Maenza will welcome the king and queen of Zulu, Brent Washington Sr. and his wife, Troye Washington, for the annual Lundi Gras celebration at 11 a.m. in Kenner’s Rivertown.
“I am looking forward to celebrating with the king and queen of Zulu,” Lexie said. “I remember when my grandfather was king of Argus how much fun we all had on Lundi Gras with the Zulu organization."
Lexie plans to attend Louisiana State University next fall and major in nursing. But before that happens, there are more parties, dance rehearsals and competitions, graduation, and of course, a royal ride.
“I have been riding in Argus for many years, but this will be different because I will be waving my scepter instead of throwing beads,” Lexie said. “My float does have several special throws on it for others on the float to throw, such as doubloons and cups with my picture on it and a queen’s doll that looks like me, which is new this year.
“I am looking forward to hearing people shout out my name as my float approaches. And I hope all the crowds that come out to enjoy Mardi Gras will have a day filled with fun.”