Mural follows pageant through time|[06/24/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The City Front mural that will be dedicated Friday afternoon goes above and beyond featuring the Miss Mississippis crowned in Vicksburg.

It accurately depicts the exact dress and hairstyle each woman wore as she was crowned.

“The mural shows how the gowns have transpired or changed through the 50 years the pageant has been here,” said Pat Hopson, vice president of the Miss Mississippi Corporation.

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The mural is the 27th of 32 murals planned for the floodwall.

If you goThe Miss Mississippi Pageant is tonight through Thursday and Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Vicksburg Convention Center, 1600 Mulberry St. Tickets for all four nights are $100. Single night tickets are available for $25 each for tonight and Wednesday; $30 for Thursday; and $50 for Saturday. Tickets for the Miss Mississippi Ball Friday at the Rainbow Arena are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Friday’s 2 p.m. mural unveiling and 7 p.m. parade are free. For more information, contact the pageant office at 601-638-6746.Mural dedicationThe Miss Mississippi mural will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Friday at City Front on Levee Street. All 45 Miss Mississippi contestants will be present.OnlinePageant PhotosMiss Mississippi Special sectionHopson has been involved with the pageant in various capacities since 1973. She is the wife of Dr. Briggs Hopson, chairman of the corporation, and the mother of Karen Hopson Hall, a former Miss Vicksburg and then Miss Mississippi 1981.

When Pat Hopson met with Nellie Caldwell, volunteer chairman of the Vicksburg Riverfront Mural Committee, and artist Robert Dafford about the mural’s concept, she wanted to convey the spirit of the long-running pageant.

“I was trying to get across the energy and enthusiasm present at a crowning,” she said.

Eventually, Hopson gathered pictures of most of the women as they were crowned Miss Mississippi here in Vicksburg.

Dafford then painted each titleholder in her crowning garb. Mary Ann Mobley, the first winner crowned in Vicksburg and the first Miss Mississippi crowned Miss America, is featured on the runway, with four “runners-up” behind her holding flowers.

“We were trying to give you an idea of what the pageant is like,” said Hopson.

Hopson said she was careful to use photos of each Miss Mississippi crowned Miss America as she looked on the night she received the state crown.

“We’re trying to make this not Miss America, but Miss Mississippi,” she said.

The pageant moved to Vicksburg in 1958 from Biloxi. Along with Mobley, the other Miss Americas crowned as Miss Mississippi in Vicksburg are Miss America 1960 Lynda Lee Mead, Miss America 1980 Cheryl Prewitt and Miss America 1986 Susan Akin.

Many of the former Miss Mississippis sent in pictures, though Hopson had to find some in her own archives. The final product, Hopson said, is better than she had imagined.

“He’s been fantastic,” Hopson said of Dafford.