Orlando honored to be PGC Queen for Spring Pilgrimage

Published 10:29 am Monday, April 1, 2019


NATCHEZ — Amelia Margaret Orlando has been the perfect poster child for Natchez beauty and history since she was a 4-year-old tourist in Texas.

She was visiting an antiques store with her mother, Susan Sharp, when she made a comment about a sconce she admired in the store.

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“The clerk was amazed that a 4-year-old knew what a sconce was,” Sharp said. “I explained, ‘She’s from Natchez.’”

Now, Orlando will once again represent the grandeur and history of the town she’s loved since preschool. She reigns as the 2019 Pilgrimage Garden Club queen, with her king and cousin, Davis Sevier Sharp at her side.

Orlando — who learned about sconces and antiques from her aunt Liza Sharp Plauché’s involvement with the Natchez Antiques Forum — has been excited about the Historic Natchez Tableaux since she was old enough to dance around the little maypole, she said.

Orlando lived in Baton Rouge during her early childhood and often visited her grandmother, Stella Sharp, in Natchez before attending Trinity Episcopal Day School in middle school, she said. She has always had a close relationship with her grandmother, Orlando said, and through that relationship, her love for Natchez art and culture grew as she participated in various flower shows, pageants and antiques forums.

“It’s been a lot of work, but I loved every step of it,” she said. “I grew up a part of pilgrimage and loved doing the pilgrimage pageants so much. Now that I’m queen is just a huge honor. Some of my closest friends from middle school at Trinity were a part of pilgrimage too, and it was a great bonding experience.”

Orlando’s mother said she recalls her daughter’s excitement for the Natchez pageants before she was old enough to participate in them.

“She was so happy to participate in the pageant,” Susan said. “When the pageant wasn’t an option, receiving at Airlie Plantation for Katie Freiberger afforded her the opportunity to wear her beautiful blue organdy dress.

“Amelia also learned to do flower arrangements from her grandmother.”

Orlando’s queen gown is made of antique ivory, duchess silk satin and designed by Sandra Stokes of Natchez with hand-pleated silk and satin ruffles added around the train, with the help of her grandmother. The design features a Bertha collar of French beaded lace that overlays the dress and train.

Her crown and scepter were picked out with the help of her mother and grandmother, Orlando said, and are both silver colored with rhinestones that make up a simple and elegant design containing swirls that resemble floral vines.

Orlando’s mother and grandmother both served on the tableaux court in the past, and though a few of her male cousins were once kings, she is the first female in her family to be crowned queen, she said.

“It’s pretty unreal,” she said. “I’m so honored to do it and surprised. The whole thing all together is just amazing. I’m mostly excited to be with my family again since I go to school so far away. This pilgrimage is an opportunity for me to visit with my friends, my cousins and the rest of my family.”

Orlando is attending The College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., where she pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in communications and a minor in studio art.

She is a member of Phi Mu Sorority, the College of Charleston swim team, an active fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital and a volunteer at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Orlando said she enjoys painting, drawing, traveling and being active. She is passionate about physical fitness and nutrition and also loves animals, especially horses. Orlando said her time on stage when she was younger inspired her and said she hopes to one day turn her passion into a career by working as a news reporter or news anchor.

Orlando will reign as queen during A Royal Evening at Longwood, which began Saturday night. The Longwood event replaced the Historic Natchez Tableaux for the PGC. Upcoming shows are at 7:30 p.m., April 5, 6, 12 and 13. The first three shows are at Longwood; the last show will be at the Natchez City Auditorium. Tickets are $15.