‘Queen’ crowned: Pageant winners from across state attended Saturday’s ‘coronation’

Published 8:35 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A coterie of queens stopped by Bogalusa for the day on Saturday.

More than 20 titleholders from pageants and festivals across the state were in town to honor the crowning of the 76th Paper Queen on Saturday night.

Madison Pope is the new queen.

The American Legion sponsors the Paper Queen pageant each year. Heather McDaniel, the director of the Paper Queen program, said the event recognizes the importance of the International Paper mill in Bogalusa and the town’s history with paper products, as well as Independence Day.

The program also supports the American Legion.

McDaniel, who was queen in 1985-1986, said the crown goes to the girl who can raise the most donations for charity. The girls must be either preparing to be seniors in high school or they must have just completed their senior year. In addition, they must be residents of Washington Parish and have a grade-point average of at least 2.0.

McDaniel said the donations go to support veteran families and they pay for public flags.

“The money also goes to the independence day parade and the fireworks,” McDaniel said. The queen also rides in the parade each year.

Finally, the money also funds scholarships for the queen and some other girls. The Queen receives $1,500, the holder of the Miss Dixie title gets $1,200 and the Sweetheart of the Legion gets $1,000. The honor court participants each get $500 scholarships.

The pageant began in 1939 as a way to commemorate the city’s Fourth of July celebration. July 4 is the birthday of the nation as well as the city.

The 1939 pageant was so popular that the next year the pageant was spun off into the Paper Queen Pageant.

Throughout the year, the Paper Queen will represent the city in various parish and statewide events and parades.

McDaniel said the program is one of the oldest pageants in the state, and therefore the Paper Queen is invited to the Mardi Gras Ball in Washington, D.C., every year.