Historic Natchez Pageant takes trip back in time

Published 12:43 am Friday, March 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — Just like always, the hoop skirts will twirl and the ribbons will whirl as the annual Historic Natchez Pageant kicks off tonight.

But the Pageant isn’t just like it used to be, said Tammi Gardner, a member of the Pilgrimage Garden Club Pageant committee, and locals should come and see what’s changed.

Last year, the pageant committee added a portrayal of African Prince Ibrahima, the William Johnson family and a rendition of “Old Man River.”

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“If it’s been a long time or if you’ve never seen it you have an idea in your head of what it is,” Gardner said. “But until you see the effort and what the kids put into it you don’t really understand.”

Tonight’s performance — which starts at 8 p.m. — is geared toward locals. The first weekend is traditionally slow, Gardner said, and most tourists won’t be in town until Saturday.

The Pageant consists of approximately 200 local performers who act out a series of stories on the history of Natchez. Many of the participants are children.

“The first time I went and saw it it just amazed me that you could get boys to put on tights and ballet shoes and dance with little girls,” Gardner said.

For locals who may know a child performing in this year’s Pageant, tonight is a good time to come and support them, she said.

“It gives the kids a chance to do some practicing with people they know in the audience,” she said. “And you get to see them in a totally different light. Little boys that have mud on their face usually are all dolled up.”

Tickets are $15 for adults and $7.50 for children under 17.

The king, queen and court of Natchez Garden Club reigns tonight and for the next two weeks. Pilgrimage Garden Club begins its reign March 22.

Pageant will continue until April 5 on at 8 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.