Caldwelll happy to wrap up Pageant career as PGC king

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 28, 2010

NATCHEZ — Spring Pilgrimage and the Historic Natchez Pageant were far from Chase Caldwell’s mind when his mother told him he had the opportunity to be the king for the Pilgrimage Garden Club.

“I was on a pay phone in south Asia when my mom told me,” he said. “I was probably paying more attention to the woman doing a Buddhist dance in the street.

“I said ‘of course,’ but it wasn’t until later that it really sank in.”

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But even with a quick, distracted answer, Caldwell said he would not go back and change it now.

A veteran Pageant participant, Caldwell said he enjoyed being part of the different scenes growing up, and coming back to reign as king this spring is, for him, a great ending.

“This is just a great time,” he said. “Being able to come back and hang out with people and friends I grew up with and meet other members of the community is a good opportunity.”

Caldwell is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Gary Caldwell of Vidalia. His grandparents are Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Caldwell of Vidalia, Ruth Ruzina of Natchez, and the late George “Rosie” Ruzina.

Caldwell, a 2007 graduate of Cathedral, is a junior at Mississippi College in Clinton majoring in Christian studies. He has achieved either dean’s or president’s list honors each semester of his college career.

He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society.

He is an active member of the Shawreth Order, has served on the Student Government Association Senate, the Men’s Affairs Board, and the Baptist Student Union Leadership Team, where he is currently leading the men’s Bible study for upperclassmen.

Caldwell is a member of First Baptist Church in Natchez and attends Morrison Heights Baptist Church in Clinton.

His past pageant participation includes Little Maypole, Big Maypole, The Picnic, Virginia Reel, Raising of the Flag, The Polka and Soiree Lead.

In 1996 he served as ring bearer alongsideflowergirl and 2010 Queen Kalin Kirkwood in the Wedding of Jefferson Davis.

Caldwell has a passion for missions and served as a student missionary in South Asia this past summer. The previous summer he served in Yellowstone National Park with 17 other college students from across the country through the Christian Innovator Program.

In January 2009 he traveled to Israel with fellow students and professors from Mississippi College during the height of the Gaza-Israel conflict.

“I feel like a significant portion of my life will be spent in the mission field,” Caldwell said. “At some point, I’d love to be able to go back to South Asia and continue the mission work there. I really miss being in south Asia.”

Caldwell said after graduation from MC, he plans to attend seminary. But after that, he said he is leaving all of his options open.

“I’m not the type of guy to make long-term plans,” he said. “I’ll make short- and medium- term plans, but as for the future, I’ll just go where I’m led.”

And wherever he ends up, Caldwell knows he will have the support of his family.

“They have always been supportive,” he said. “From the time I told them I was interested in mission work, they’ve been nothing but supportive,” he said. “That surprises a lot of people, because families aren’t always supportive, but mine is really OK with my decision.”

Caldwell enjoys the outdoors, especially hiking, camping and backpacking and continues to study piano at Mississippi College. He recently began learning to play the guitar.

Caldwell will be juggling his course work at MC, which includes classes in Greek, Hebrew and the New Testament, with his duties as king. He said, however, he won’t be doing it alone.

Caldwell’s girlfriend of four years, Brittany Allen, is a member of the court this year.

“She didn’t grow up in Pageant so this is all new to her,” he said. “It has been fun for both of us.”

Allen is a nursing student at MC, and Caldwell said that is an added benefit.

“This gives me a person to ride back and forth with,” he said. “It will make the trips more enjoyable.”