Whittington is NGC queen

Published 12:53 am Sunday, March 9, 2008

NATCHEZ — Kayce Whittington has been a part of the Historic Natchez Pageant before she could walk. Now, she will walk with scepter in hand as queen representing the Natchez Garden Club in the 2008 Historic Natchez Pageant.

Whittington is a junior at Mississippi State University with a major in art and a minor in interior design.

“Art has always been what I was good at so I have a passion for it,” Whittington said.

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But her painting passion is coupled with her innate desire to decorate.

“Ever since I was little I wanted to rearrange my room and that kind of came natural,” she said.

The work behind interior design is not as easy as people might think, she said.

Classes require work with graph paper, rulers and a steady hand, not just a flair for style.

“It’s more like architecture for the inside of the house,” Whittington said.

Her projected graduate date is in December 2010 and she hopes to move to a big city to work for an interior design firm.

“I’ve got an open mind,” she said.

In her preparations for her two week reign as the Natchez Garden Club queen — which began Friday — she’s helped a lot with decorating, being able to put her budding expertise to work.

Her sister-in-law is the decorator for the royal ball next weekend and she’s been helping with the decorating plans.

Although Whittington said she’s still in a dream-like state over being chosen for queen and wasn’t quite expecting it, the natural progression can be seen through her lifetime experience with the pageant.

Her mother, Penny Whittington, carried her as a townsperson in the Showboat tableau when Whittington was an infant.

Since then, she’s been in Little Maypole, Big Maypole for two years; she was a polka favor girl, a junior bridesmaid, and a bridesmaid and was in soiree, the Can Can, Fannie Elssler and Polka.

Whittington said her mother and her grandmother, Mary Sue Jackson, have had dreams of Whittington being the queen for years.

“Everything they’ve ever done toward the garden clubs has been in hopes for me to be able to get this,” she said.

Her grandmother has been in the garden club “forever,” Whittington said. She said Jackson has worked in Magnolia Hall ever since it was opened for tourism.

Penny Whittington has been involved in the club since the mid 1980s.

Whittington said her mother and grandmother have been working tirelessly in preparation for the events.

“It’s very stressful, it’s like planning a wedding for them,” Whittington said.

She’s tried to help as much as she can.

“I feel bad because I get all the glory and they’re the ones that work so hard for it,” Whittington said.

Her dress was first worn by Amy Callon, who was a pageant queen in 1996.

Whittington said Callon volunteered to let Whittington wear her dress when Whittington’s queen-ship was announced.

The dress is one of the most expensive and elegant ever to be worn, Whittington said.

“It’s a huge honor that she let me use her dress,” Whittington said.

Whittington’s father works with Callon’s father.

The bodice of the dress has been remade and the once 12-foot-long train has been reduced to eight feet, Whittington said.

Cindy Whittington, who has no relation, worked on her dress.

The dress is covered in pearl and iridescent beaded lace over silk satin. The ivory-colored dress has a scooped neck and small puffed sleeves.

The court train falls from waist and is made of the same satin and same lace trim as the skirt and bodice of the gown.

The lace is imported from France and is peppered with pearls, Whittington said.

She has been best friends with the Natchez Garden Club king, Will Godfrey, ever since they were 5 years old.

“We’ve grown up together,” Whittington said.

Whittington is a 2005 graduate of Trinity Episcopal Day School.

She said Godfrey has also participated in many aspects of the pageant, just like her.

For the next two weeks Whittington will attend many parties ending with the king and queen’s ball, which she likened to a large wedding reception. She will appear in Pageant four nights a week.