Former Miss Mississippi and Miss Vicksburg has unique view|[07/12/07]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 12, 2007

Karen Hopson Hall has seen the Miss Mississippi pageant from several different points of view, making her a unique participant in the celebration of the pageant’s 50th year in Vicksburg.

&#8220It’s probably more like a reunion for me than anyone else,” said Hall.

Although her parents have been involved with the pageant for years, she competed only one year – becoming Miss Vicksburg, Miss Mississippi and a finalist for Miss America in 1981.

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By contrast, Dr. W. Briggs and Pat Hopson, first became involved in the pageant in 1973 – and have been out of official roles in the annual production only one year since, stepping aside the year their daughter competed.

That means Hall not only grew up with the pageant – her mother began as a hostess and her father, a vascular surgeon, began as the pageant physician – she won it and has been around it since.

&#8220I think the enduring appeal is the hospitality – the way the city pulls together for the event,” she said. &#8220It’s the advantage of having it in a city this size.”

Today, Hall lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area with her husband, Reggie Hall, and returns every few years to her hometown to see the pageant.

Pat Hopson is the vice president of the Miss Mississippi Corporation and her father is the chairman of the Miss Mississippi Board of Trustees, the key roles in the corporation that owns and produces the event being staged in Vicksburg for the 50th time this week.

The special year has given rise to a series of special events, including a Friday night gala to which all former title-holders have been invited and many will attend.

The only other Miss Vicksburg to take the state crown was Judy Simono in 1964. She will not return for the 50th crowning, said Debbie Brumitt, press chairman for the Miss Mississippi Corporation.

Just after becoming Miss Mississippi, Hopson, then 21, said she wanted to operate a dance school, and that’s what she did – in Oxford where she attended and graduated from the University of Mississippi. In an interview, she said she attributes her successes in that endeavor – and others – to her success in the Miss Mississippi pageant.

&#8220There’s a confidence that comes with being Miss Mississippi,” she said. That confidence continues to help her, Hall said, in her work as a consultant for Premier Designs Jewelry in Texas and in her duties as a stay-at-home mother for three, ages 12, 15 and 18.

Hall easily identifies the difference being Miss Mississippi made in her life.

&#8220My greatest memories are the USO tours. Being in Europe, Asia and the Middle East really awakened my sense of patriotism,” she said. &#8220Doors were opened to me because I was Miss Mississippi.”

At the Miss America competition, Hopson placed in the Top Ten and won Mississippi’s fourth consecutive preliminary swimwear award.

&#8220I was happy and relieved because there was a lot of pressure. I held up four fingers as I walked down the runway – I’m sure no one knew what I was doing except my dad,” she said.

The 1978 St. Aloysius graduate says that in the 26 years since her crowning, she has continued to see the camaraderie among the contestants that existed when she competed.

&#8220The friendship – almost like a sisterhood – is immediately there,” she said.

She’s having a great time this week, she said.

&#8220It’s very touching to be here,” she said. &#8220It’s very sentimental and it will be wonderful to see the Miss Mississippis I grew up around again.”