Natchez teen will reign as parade’s princess

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 6, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Others may wear green, but for young Amber Willis the St. Patrick’s Day color of choice will be purple &045; sparkly, regal purple to go along with a tiara fit for a queen &045; or a princess.

Amber in fact will be a princess among many queens on March 15, the day set for the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Jackson.

Sponsored by the famous Jill Conner Browne Sweet Potato Queens, Amber, 15, will follow in a convertible directly behind the float carrying some of the often outrageously delightful queens, whose number this year is set to include popular actress Delta Burke, said Amber’s mother, Frances Seyfarth of Natchez.

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&uot;I’m so happy they’ve asked her to participate,&uot; Seyfarth said. &uot;The Sweet Potato Queens have adopted her. They have sent her gifts from all over the United States and have made her the fairy princess she wants to be.&uot;

Amber is a frequent patient at the Blair E. Baston Hospital for Children in Jackson, where she has been treated since age 5 for spinal meningitis and seizure disorder.

The queens, an organization of women now numbering in the many thousands all over the country, raise funds for the hospital, Seyfarth said. &uot;I’ve been associated with that hospital for 10 years, and I’ve watched it grow,&uot; she said. &uot;I know what those women have done to help the hospital.&uot;

Amber has touched the heart of many of the members of the Sweet Potato Queens organization, her mother said.

&uot;Jill Conner Browne sent her the tiara she will wear in the parade,&uot; she said, referring to the original Sweet Potato Queen and author of three books that have soared in popularity nationwide.

The dress and white stole Amber will wear is from Billie’s Bridal and Formalwear in Vidalia, La., a gift from owner Stinky Evans.

&uot;She walked into the store and ran right to the dress,&uot; Seyfarth said. &uot;She said, ‘this is my dress; this is it.’&uot;

Amber has always loved the princess image, her mother said. She has a collection of princess dolls and likes to be called &uot;Princess&uot; as her nickname. &uot;She’ll never have a prom or a wedding,&uot; Seyfarth said. &uot;This is her dream come true.&uot;