It is just one of those Natchez things

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 1, 2009

Have you ever tried to explain Natchez to a “foreigner?” And by foreigner, I mean anyone who is not from here.

When asked to explain where I come from I know exactly where to begin.

I simply start by saying, “Oh, I’m from Natchez,” and for most people, that explains it all.

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For others though, I have to start from the beginning and work my way through every detail so they can understand the full meaning of what it is to be a “Natchezian.”

With the Historic Natchez Pageant right around the corner, it is only appropriate that I try and tell them what exactly it all means.

I tell them about being scared to death of being in the Little Maypole. They laugh when I tell them that boys skip around the floor. I tell them about tapping my feet around in a perfect semi circle as a Placard Bearer.

Most end up begging to come and see what this “Natchez stuff” is all about. Some think this means I am a “pageant girl,” and I quickly explain that this pageant is far from anything they have ever seen before.

Thankfully I was able to bring a crew along a few years ago so everyone could finally understand. Some were overwhelmed and others were hooked. They still talk about that time in Natchez when they stayed at the Eola and went to the ball.

For me, I have other favorite parts about the pageant. Whether watching little kids shyly revolve around the maypole or anxiously awaiting to be asked to dance the waltz during the Polka, I’m not quite sure which is my favorite part of the whole shindig.

I love the colors of the dresses and the intricate steps of the dances. I love to listen to the speaker tell the story of Natchez over and over. I love to hear the music right before the Confederate Farewell.

Mostly though, I love the fact that only Natchezians can really understand what it means to be “in the pageant.”

I can hardly wait for March so that I can come home every weekend and spend my nights being a part of a 77-year-old tradition.

I am a stickler for any kind of tradition, so I was definitely made to be a Natchezian in that sense.

Even though it is such a difficult place to explain, that is what makes Natchez the only place I could ever call home.

It is home not only because of the pageant, but also because Natchez holds a lifetime and more of memories that I could never explain to someone from another place. It’s the cemetery, the houses and the flowers. It’s the river, downtown and its one-way streets. It’s everything you call home and can never find in another place.

So, yes, I am from Natchez, and I am in the pageant for the last time this year.

While I know I may be getting a little old to play dress up in the big dress and parade around in the tableaux, I am a little sad that this is it for me.

Sometimes people ask me why I go home all of the time in the spring. I simply say, “Oh, it’s just one of those Natchez things.” Most of the time, they understand me.

However, this year the pageant has an all new meaning to me.

Hopefully, it will for some of you, too. Now that I am older, I have a new appreciation for the pageant. I get to see the hard work that goes into each production and have come to understand why each tableaux is so important to the entire pageant. I am proud to be carrying on this Natchez tradition once again.

So, if you have not been to see our lovely little pageant in a few years, maybe it is time to go back and remember why you love Natchez so much.

Whether to watch a family friend in The Soiree, laugh a little at the hounds in The Hunt, or even to see the entire pageant from beginning to end for the first time, go back to what makes Natchez what it is.

Go watch the history unfold in an elegant and almost magical way through The Historic Natchez Pageant.

Jennie Guido is a Natchez resident and a part of the Historic Natchez Pageant.