|OPINION PAGE - FEBRUARY 9, 2000 - DANIELSVILLE, GA|
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forestry pageant is a wonderful experience
My name is Melissa "Missy" Anne Branyon, the reigning 1999 Miss Madison-Elbert Counties Forestry Queen. On March 20, 1999, I was crowned Miss Forestry and immediately my duties began. Over the next few weeks, I was constantly in touch with the Georgia Forestry Commission about the Forestry Day with the Macon Braves, a Minor League team of the Atlanta Braves. On April 17, I began my first duty as queen putting stickers on children, signing autographs, taking pictures with the children and walking around with Smokey Bear and Woodsy the Owl. I was also privileged enough to throw out the first pitch with Smokey, and that was a once in a lifetime experience.
My next few months were very busy in which I was making plans for the upcoming parades. In May, I was the first Miss Madison-Elbert Counties Forestry Queen to ride in the Hull Memorial Day Parade. After the parade, I began my preparation and speech for the state pageant in June, which took place in Tifton. My platform issue was Attention Deficit Disorder, because I feel that it is the most misdiagnosed disorder. While in Tifton, we were treated like royalty. Cars would stop in the middle of the street to let us cross and anyone would let us visit their businesses. The pageant was an experience that I'll never forget and will cherish forever. Then two weeks later, I participated in the Colbert Fourth of July parade in which the city of Cannas was spectacular.
Over the next few months I was able to learn more about forestry and speak at the Boy Scout Jamboree and the Share Pilot Meeting where the governor of Pilot, Mrs. Cindy Tatum, was present. Then the most busy month of all arrived, December. On Dec. 2, I paraded through the streets of Athens for the Parade of Lights. On Dec. 4, the busiest parade day of all arrived. I rode in the Bowman parade at 10 a.m., the Comer parade at 2 p.m., and the Elberton parade at 5 p.m. That was a true adventure that I shared with three of the other queens.
No matter how long a day it might have been, there was always joy and excitement that made it all worthwhile. I owe everything and the privilege to some very important people who only God could have sent my way and I thank Him. Mrs. Louise McElroy, Mrs. Beth Coker, the Pilot Club of Madison County, the forestry guys - Mark Wiles and Gerry Bridges, the Georgia Forestry Commission, Ms. Dianne Dominy and her crew, everyone in Tifton for their hospitality, my parents Debbie and Kenneth Branyon, my grandparents and great-grandmother, the Payne family and friends, and my fiancé, who through everything supported me 100 percent, Jeremy Payne. I would especially like to thank the other queens for the great times they have shared with me and they are India McElroy, Mallory James, Tiffany Nunziato and Brandy Drake.
My advice and encouragement is that the forestry pageant is a wonderful experience that has improved over the years and everyone should participate. This past year has been an experience of a lifetime and I can guarantee the future will be, too!
1999 Miss Madison-Elbert
Counties Forestry Queen
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