Cathedral graduate honored to continue Natchez tradition
NATCHEZ — Rudolf Krueger Lazarus had a bittersweet realization during the first performance of this year’s Historic Natchez Tableaux.
As he watched the younger participants take to the stage of the Natchez City Auditorium, Lazarus, 21, realized this year would be the closing of a major part of the last 16 years of his life.
“I’ve been a part of Tableaux since I was 5 years old, and I just can’t remember a year where I wasn’t doing something with the pageant,” Lazarus said. “I was sitting there watching everyone come out, and I realized that I’ve done all of those things before and been in their shoes.
“It was weird to think this would be my last one.”
The 2011 Cathedral High School graduate and Mississippi State University junior is reigning over the first half of Spring Pilgrimage as the Natchez Garden Club’s king.
A Natchez native, Lazarus said it was his mother, Kim, who initially got him started in Tableaux.
“My mom has been in the garden club forever, and I’m sure she’s always wanted me to be king after I got started,” Lazarus said, laughing. “It’s just a huge honor to even be asked to be king, and it’s something I’m grateful for.”
Lazarus said his time growing up in Natchez produced some memorable moments, but he always knew Starkville was the place he would call home for at least four years.
“I never really went to tour any other schools, because I just knew I wanted to go there,” he said. “It’s been great, and I’ve enjoyed getting to meet a lot of new people. I wish it could last as long as possible.”
At MSU, Lazarus is majoring in building construction science with a minor in business administration. He is also a member of the Kappa Alpha Order and plays intramural softball and football.
Lazarus said having a few fellow Natchez natives around campus and in his fraternity makes explaining the significance of the Tableaux that much easier.
“When I try and tell people from State that aren’t from Natchez what I’m doing, right when I say pageant the first thing they think of is little girls walking on stage,” Lazarus said. “So after me and some of the other people from Natchez explain everything, they think it’s pretty cool.”
During portions of the Tableaux season, Lazarus has to drive back and forth between Natchez and Starkville to balance taking classes and reigning as king.
The driving doesn’t bother Lazarus, who said it would be worth the mileage when his friends and family join him for the king’s ball.
“I’m excited to have a lot of my friends from school coming into town, so I can show them around,” he said. “For most of them, it will be their first time in Natchez.”
At Cathedral, Lazarus was a three-year letterman in football and a three-year letterman in baseball. His senior year he was selected on first team all-district and named most valuable offensive player in baseball.
Lazarus is the son of Mike and Kim Lazarus. He is the grandson of Mr. and Mrs. Rudy Krueger and Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lazarus all of Natchez.
Rudy’s previous pageant participation includes Little Maypole, Page, Big Maypole, Indian in Raising of the Flag, Soireé and American Flag Bearer in the court.
As king, Lazarus will don a confederate uniform worn by past NGC kings, including Trippy Shields. His parents helped Lazarus customize the uniform by purchasing a custom-made sword engraved with his name.
Getting to see her son’s Tableaux experience culminate as king has made this year even more special for Kim.
“It’s just a long tradition in my family, and he’s been around it his whole life, so this is kind of his last hoorah,” Kim said. “At least until he has children of his own.”
Rudy said a life in Natchez down the road certainly isn’t out the picture.
“I’m not really sure what my next step is, but I wouldn’t mind coming back to Natchez,” he said. “Even if I do go off somewhere else for a while, I for sure want to come back here one day.”