Waycaster reigns as PGC queen

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; The hoop skirt and the hoopla are old hat for Virginia Lee Waycaster.

It’s the tiara, the scepter and the knowledge that she’s a role model for little girls that make her reign as the Pilgrimage Garden Club’s Historic Natchez Pageant queen for 2003 special.

&uot;I feel like I’m not supposed to be the one who’s up there,&uot; Waycaster said, recalling the times she looked up to the queens of the pageant. &uot;They’re the person you look up to. I hope I’m able to do that for young girls.&uot;

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But Waycaster &045; who goes by her middle name, Lee &045; is a role model in other ways, too: a junior at Louisiana State University, she is studying dietetics, which she said is a growing field. She has been planning and preparing for her reign while also balancing her schoolwork and other activities at school.

Waycaster grew up, as so many Natchez girls do, learning the dances and being fitted for dresses for the annual Pilgrimage pageant.

Sitting amid the bustle of activity in her living room on a rare break from school, Waycaster said she enjoys being a part of the tradition that has served Natchez for so many years. Her dress and accessories are even part of the tradition: former queens Jacqueline Benson loaned her the gown, Courtney Taylor provided the crown and Marie Perkins loaned the scepter.

&uot;They’ve been through this,&uot; Waycaster said. &uot;They know how special it is. It’s nice for them to be able to see (these items) again in the pageant.&uot;

Waycaster has enjoyed spending time with many of the former queens.

&uot;It’s special whenever I get to talk to ladies who have been through this before,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s sharing something Š they know how exciting it is for you.&uot;

This year, Waycaster is also sharing the experience with one of her closest friends, Joanna Biglane, who will reign as queen for the Natchez Garden Club.

&uot;I’m really glad that I’ve been able to do this with Joanna,&uot; she said. &uot;Just counting on having a good friend in it has been easier.&uot;

Along with friends and former pageant participants, Waycaster has relied on her family to help plan for the events.

&uot;Everybody’s worked so hard,&uot; she said. &uot;I just get to be there and enjoy it.&uot;

For Waycaster’s mother, Kaye, this year’s pageant will be bittersweet. She lost her mother, Marian Virginia Carroll, within the last two weeks.

&uot;But she’ll be able to be there,&uot; Kaye said as she and her daughter shared a sad smile. &uot;She’ll be there every night.&uot;

As Kaye Waycaster coped with the death of her mother, several friends and other family members pitched in to help with the planning of the ball, sending invitations and confirming details. &uot;My friends just took over,&uot; Kaye said. &uot;We wouldn’t have been able to do this without them.&uot;

Waycaster is the daughter of Johnny L. Waycaster and Kaye Carroll Waycaster. Her grandparents are James Lamar Waycaster and Mattilee Shupe Waycaster of Natchez and H.Daniel Carroll of Baton Rouge and the late Marian Virginia Carroll.

A 2000 Cathedral High School graduate, she is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, Gamma Beta Phi, Phi Eta Sigma and Alpha Lambda Delta. She has achieved the sophomore honors distinction and is on the dean’s list. She is also a member of the Baptist Christian Ministries and the Reformed University Fellowship. She is out-of-state recruitment chairman for Phi Mu sorority and secretary of the Dietetic Association.

Waycaster enjoys running, reading, health and spending time with her friends.