Thursday, March 15, 2007
Clue #2 It's wo-man-made ... Jill Conner Browne, the Boss Sweet Potato Queen Herownself & Various Sweet Potato Queens, Wannabes & Queens from all over
That's Jill in the great big sparkly crown, before she got aboard the SPQ float--see it in the background, all pink and green? As you can see, there's a whole lotta foam rubber added to the Sweet Potato Queens' costumes--ain't they grand? I think so.
For those seeing/hearing about the Sweet Potato Queen phenomenon for the first time, suffice it to say that for 25 years, come this St. Patrick's Day, Jackson, Mississippi, has been home to Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. The Sweet Potato Queens started their participation then, too. Jill and her friends had always wanted to be in a parade, so why not join right in?
Since then, Jill's written books galore (The Sweet Potato Queens' Book of Love, 2001, God Save the Sweet Potato Queens, 2003 , The Sweet Potato Queens' Big-Ass Cookbook (And Financial Planner), 2003, Sweet Potato Queens' Field Guide to Men, 2004, Sweet Potato Queens' Wedding Planner/Divorce Guide, 2005, and The Sweet Potato Queens' First Big-Ass Novel, 2007. Heartfelt, hilarious and racy, filled with stories and advice on men, love, money, food, friends, and most of all finding your own true self and making the best of it 'cause you're a power-filled woman, these books spread Jill's message around the world.
Year by year, more and more women came to Jackson for St. Patrick's, dressed up and having a grand time, parading around and loving every minute of it. Right now, there's over 5000 chapters of Sweet Potato Queens, worldwide. SPQ activities start on Thursday and continue through Sunday brunch. You can find out all about it at sweetpotatoqueens.com, plus you can find out how to start your very own local chapter, of which you could become boss queen!
Best of all, I think, it's a chance to get together with other women and enjoy yourself, laughing, dancing, oohing and ahhing at everybody's costumes. They're wildly gaudy, the more embellishments, the better. Same with the parade floats. This is a big deal, y'all, complete with street closures. With estimates of 50,000 onlookers, the Sweet Potato Queens and the official Wannabes lead off the parade at noon. After the parade, there's a great big party for the 21-year-and-older crowd, always with music from the Bluz Boys plus other local bands. It's big, exciting fun.
And it's fun for a good cause. The parade has raised over $330,000 for the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children in Jackson. There's also a pet parade that benefits the Mississippi Animal Rescue League.
That's Randall Wallace out in front of the SPQ, after they'd decided to de-float and walk for a while. You'll know Wallace from his movies, "Braveheart," "We Were Soldiers," "Man in the Iron Mask," "Pearl Harbor." This was his first parade in jackson.
Jill and all of the Sweet Potato Queens entertain at the Sweet Potato Queens Ball, on Friday night. The band that plays and plays so that everyone can dance until they drop is These Days with Jewel Bass. What a grand group of professional, talented, so-glad-they-are-there-for-Jacksonians musicians that is. Wow. Other pictures are mixed in here, for your enjoyment.
There's Malcom White, the guy who started the parade, marching along with the SPQ on Capitol Street. Jackson would not be the same if Malcolm had not come back to town. All you'll have to do is Google Malcom White to learn the many reasons why, starting with Hal and Mal's Restaurant & Brewery.
Kilt Boy and Spud Stud, aka Randall "Bravehart" Wallace, in his first year in the parade.
Dancing Wannabes entertain the crowd. Just so you know, Wannabes always march in the parade, Sweet Potato Queens ride on the float, and that makes it all right with the world.
Of course, the SPQ may get off the float if they so desire. This particular year, they did just that. Here's Queen George at the forefront of a couple of Wannabes, on Capitol Street, just about in front of the Governor's Mansion.
There's JPF editor Donna Ladd, waving at the crowd in front of the Governor's Mansion.
This is after the parade--can you believe how great Boss Queen Jill still looks? So does Charly, who serves as ramrod for the entire shebang, plus keeping Hal and Mal's the stellar entity that it is, day and night.