Over-the-Hill Queens keep rolling along

Published 12:10 am Saturday, February 10, 2018


NATCHEZ — For three decades, the Over-the-Hill Queens have carried out their mission unapologetically:

“We just have a really good time,” OTH founder and Queen Mother Gwen McCalip said.

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The group celebrated its 30th anniversary Friday, as they song songs, played games and laughed the night away in their festive Mardi Gras gear leading up to the Krewe of Phoenix Mardi Gras parade.

The Queens began in 1988 for McCalip’s 40th birthday, when she rented a float and asked some of her friends to join her for the parade. She said a total of 12 women took part.

“We had so much fun, next year everyone’s fighting to get on the float,” McCalip said.

The 22 women who remain Queens today are now in their 60s and 70s, but they haven’t lost a step. Though the crew does not travel frequently to New Orleans as they used to, the group remains famous — or they might argue infamous — at famous Pat O’Brien’s bar in the French Quarter.

“We’re known as the ‘Nunz of Natchez’ at Pat O’Brien’s,” member Darlene Christian said. “People believed that we were schoolteachers and they said, “Are y’all really nuns?’ We’d say ‘Oh, yeah, yeah.’”

Christian and McCalip, whose birthdays are just a week apart, forged a friendship after being part of the same exercise class, Christian said. Christian was a newcomer to Natchez at the time, and when she saw that McCalip had rented the float, Christian inquired about riding on the float next year.

“She said ‘You’re on, baby,’” Christian said. “It just grew and grew, and it’s just a great group of ladies. Our husbands are all friends, and it’s just a good group.”

McCalip and Christian said OTH consists of group of women who all took unique life paths, making for an equally unique kinship amongst the member.

And with all the exuberance displayed while aboard their float at Friday’s parade, the ladies showed no signs of slowing down.