Gamberi is NGC king: Cathedral graduate reigns during second half of Pilgrimage
NATCHEZ — Growing up, Joshua Gamberi didn’t realize he was getting an education in culture to which most people don’t have access.
Participation in pageant — now the Historic Natchez Tableaux, of which he is the Natchez Garden Club’s king — was something he did because, he thought, it was just something children in Natchez do.
“Back then, I didn’t realize what I was being given,” Gamberi said. “I knew it was a big deal to the older people, but growing up you see it as having to do it to make mama happy.”
But after he went to college at Belhaven in Jackson and brought some friends back to Natchez to show them the Tableaux he really began to realize what he was being offered through the years.
“When people hear you talk about ‘pageant,’ they think beauty pageant, but when I tell them what it is they are interested,” he said. “My buddies from Jackson were kind of surprised at all of the history in the town for it being so small, how much has gone on in this town; when you are from bigger places, you rarely get to see something that focuses on the elegance of the older times, and they really enjoyed it.”
When he saw how his friends reacted to the Tableaux, Gamberi said he realized how much he had taken participation for granted.
“I really like to dance, and then seeing people who have never seen or done those kinds of dances, I am really appreciative of having been able to do it all of my life, of being raised and cultured this way,” he said.
Gamberi is the fourth of four brothers to participate in Tableaux, and the second member of his family to serve as Natchez Garden Club King. His brother, James “Jamey” Gamberi was king in 2007.
“I really wasn’t expecting to be chosen as king,” he said. “I was kind of surprised after having an older brother be one.”
Joshua is the son Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gamberi. He is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. John A. Leckie of Natchez and the late Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gamberi Sr. of Natchez.
Josh is a 2009 graduate of Cathedral High School and attended Belhaven University where he majored in sports medicine.
He now attends Louisiana State University and is majoring in environmental management systems and hopes to complete a double major in kinesiology.
In high school Josh earned Eagle Scout, was Mr. CHS and was a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club.
In football he lettered three years and was named to the All-Metro, All-District and All-Region teams.
In tennis he lettered two years. He was a member of peer ministry team, CYO and attended Catholic Heart Work Camp for three summers.
At Belhaven he was on the football team, was a dean’s list scholar, received the Academic Excellence in Athletics Award and was a member of the Sports Medicine and Exercise Science Club.
He attends St. Mary Basilica Catholic Church.
Josh enjoys hunting, snow skiing, wake boarding, fishing and cooking.
His past pageant participation includes Little Maypole, Big Maypole, Picnic, Wheel Roller in Showboat, Groom and Groomsman in The Wedding, Raising of the Flag as Indian and Soldier, Polka, Confederate Flag Runner, 2011 Court and 2012 Court.
Josh said that of the long education he has received through participation in Tableaux, his favorite is knowing how to do the different dances.
“Really, how many guys my age do you know who know how to waltz?” he said. “When some of my friends from Belhaven came down, during the part where the crowd can come down and dance they tried to waltz. They were surprised that (Natchezians) were able to get young people — high school kids — to be able to learn those dances and then actually do it.”
During Tableaux, Josh is wearing a reproduction Confederate cavalry Brigadier General’s uniform designed and made by Janis E. Schreiber of New Orleans, who based the design on Confederate uniform regulations, photomodels of the originals and individual specifications.
The uniform is on loan from 2001 Natchez Garden Club King Richard Alfred Edgin III.
The tunic coat is cadet gray and double-breasted with eagle-encrusted brass buttons and has a yellow collar and cuffs. The collar has a regulation general’s insignia of three stars embroidered on it, and on the sleeves — extending from the cuffs — are the general’s four rows of gold braid.
The uniform trousers are dark blue with a double gold stripe down the inside seams.
Josh also wears an authentic, hand-made replica of the Boyle, Gamble and McAfee sword, which bears blade etchings of “C.S.A.,” a cannon and a battle flag.
The sword features hand-finished brass fittings and a top grain black leather scabbard with brass fittings. The sword was a gift from his grandparents.
And the fact that he gets to wear it is another indicator to Josh of the unique opportunity he’s been given as Tableaux king.
“It’s rare that you get to walk around with a Confederate sword in public and be looked at as normal,” he said.
But all joking aside, Josh said he realizes that as Tableaux king he in some ways is a representative of Natchez.
“As I got older, I realized just how much this town looks forward to Tableaux and how important it is to everybody,” he said.
“Honestly, I took it for granted, but then after going other places, I realized what we have here.”