By Greg LaRose, | The Times-Picayune

Carnival season continues to change in Jefferson Parish, as officials place an emphasis on the first weekend of parades. For 2020, two krewes will roll on Saturday, Feb. 15, on Veterans Memorial Boulevard and end their route at Family Gras, the three-day weekend concert series held in the Clearview Center parking lot.

Parish Councilwoman Jennifer Van Vrancken announced the news Monday (June 17) at a Clearview Center news conference.

The Krewe of Centurions, which has traditionally paraded the Friday before Fat Tuesday, is moving to Family Gras Saturday. A new parading group, the Magical Krewe of MadHatters, will precede Centurions. A shift from the traditional eastbound route for first weekend parades was made this year to coincide with the relocation of Family Gras from the neutral ground near Lakeside Shopping Center to Clearview Center.

Centurions and MadHatters take over the schedule slot from the Krewe of Caesar, which had been the largest organization parading in Metairie. Its leaders announced in April the krewe would no longer parade, citing difficulties with raising enough money to hold a procession that meets their standards.

The dissolution of Caesar, founded in 1979, and relocation of Isis, which dates back to 1972, makes the 39-year-old Krewe of Centurions the oldest organization still on the Veterans route.

Norman Bourgeois, Centurions captain, said the growing popularity of the Family Gras concerts convinced his members a schedule change was in order.

“We’ve seen all the excitement of Family Gras, and we want to be a part of it,” Bourgeois said.

Family dentist Dr. Joey Lacoste is the founding force behind the MadHatters. He said growing up in Jefferson Parish and attending parades as a child spurred his interest in launching a new parade in Metairie. Several business leaders have reached out to voice their support for adding another krewe to the Jefferson parade schedule, Lacoste said.

To round out the Family Gras weekend (Feb. 14-16), Excalibur will parade on Friday and the Krewe of Kings will roll Sunday, also ending their routes at Clearview Center.

The changes announced Monday leave just two Metairie parades on the weekend schedule just before Fat Tuesday: Athena and Pandora will take the Veterans Boulevard route on Sunday. Isis announced last week it was relocating its second Saturday parade to Kenner, marking the first time that city will host a Carnival parade since 1992.

Argus and the truck parades will continue to roll through Metairie on Fat Tuesday.

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