Miss Mississippi 2009|Parade of contestants ‘is really fun’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A parade of contestants on downtown Washington Street Monday evening officially kicked off the 52nd annual Miss Mississippi Pageant in Vicksburg.

Scroll down for a slideshow of the parade

For an autograph

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All sessions are from 10 until 11:30 a.m.

• Wednesday — George Carr Motor Company

• Thursday — Outlets at Vicksburg

• Friday — Washington Street shops

The 47 hopefuls, dressed in glamorous gowns topped with their crowns, rode in convertibles donated by various people and dealerships in Vicksburg.

Young girls eager for a glimpse of their favorite contestant to grown men with car obsessions lined the street holding signs and yelling words of encouragement as the girls rode by.

“It’s really fun,” said Kaylee Claiborne Wright, 8, who has dreams of becoming a Miss Mississippi.

Kaylee attended the parade for the first time with her mother, Jessica Wright. “We loved it. It’s neat to see the girls up close and interacting with us,” said Wright.

Also a first-time parade attendee was Billie Sue Smith of Vicksburg who said, “We loved it and we love all the beautiful gowns. And with the beautiful breeze, you couldn’t ask for a better day.”

July parades can be scorchers, but it was 87 degrees during Monday’s event.

“Anytime there is pretty weather, we’ll have a good turnout,” said Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace, who is the security chairman for the annual pageant.

Warren County Deputy Sheriff Leroy Williams, who has been an integral part of the pageant for the last 30 years, estimated about 1,000 people turned out for the parade, which began in 1998.

Tommy Tadlock, father of Miss New South Anna Tadlock, said, “ I like the fact that you can see all the girls. And of course, I’m a man, so I like all the cars.” He said a red 1964 Chevy Corvette was his favorite.

Following the procession of contestants were the Hinds Community College Hi-Steppers, who danced to Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and the Warren Central High School cheerleaders.

Closing the parade was a float of young princes and princesses, who are escorts to each contestant during competitions.

Immediately following the parade was an autograph party at Horizon Hotel Casino, where fans and supporters had the opportunity to meet the candidates up close and get autographs.

Seven-year-old Gracie Buell, the daughter of Mandy and Jimmy Buell, stood in line with her sisters to get autographs from all the contestants and said she didn’t have a favorite contestant but liked all of them and their pretty dresses.

Working behind the scenes of the young women in their glitzy dresses were the pageant hostesses, who are never more than a few feet away from their contestants.

“It’s not tough, not hard at all (hosting a contestant),” said hostess Rebecca Lanier, who is called the week-mom to Miss Dixieland Marie Elizabeth Wicks, Miss Dogwood Festival Sarah Dale Simpkins and Miss Leaf River Valley Jessica Cofield. “I enjoy it and it’s easy if you enjoy it,” she said.

Events now move indoors with the first of three preliminary nights of competition Wednesday at 8 and continuing Thursday and Friday.

The final night of competition is at 8 p.m. Saturday; there the top 10 finalists will compete in all four phases — evening wear, swimwear, talent and on-stage questions.

All competitions will be at the Vicksburg Convention Center, and tickets are available by calling the pageant office at 601-638-6746.

Three more autograph sessions are scheduled during the week from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at George Carr Motor Company on Wednesday, at the Outlets at Vicksburg on Thursday and at Washington Street shops on Friday.


Contact Manivanh Chanprasith at mchan@vicksburgpost.com