This past Saturday my oldest daughter and I were both in our town’s Christmas parade; Abby on her Girl Scout troop’s float, and me as a part of American Legion Post 229’s color guard. Behind me in the lineup were some of the most beautifully dressed young ladies I’ve seen. Assuming they were “Southern belles”, they tinkled along (apparently wearing bells) behind me for the length of the parade route. They were emaculately dressed in antebellum style dresses and wearing what appeared to be winter shawls on this not-too-cold Alabama evening.
|Photo © Madison Weekly News
Having young daughters, I can imagine they would love to casually stroll through town in their antebellum finest, so I did a little research on who they are. According to the Madison Weekly News:
The young ladies of the Madison Belles bring the art of antebellum charm and wit, southern hospitality and historical authenticity to events in the Madison area.
Dawn Johnson, proprietor of Southern Traditions, a wholesaler of customized fine linens for the home, first organized the Belles in 2009. The Belles have since become ambassadors that represent Madison City in the best way possible.
The Madison Belles have been seen around Madison at events such as Connect 2011, the Madison City Street Festival and Parade, Bark in the Park, The Lighting of the Lights at city hall, and the First Lady’s Annual Tea.
“Being a Madison Belle is a part social, part charitable and part learning experience,” says Johnson. “These girls aren’t just fluff, they have to know their history.”
More information on the group is listed on the Southern Traditions website. Apparently there is quite a selection process to become a Madison Belle. Given my oldest in first grade, she has quite a few years to prepare.
I’m a big fan of the Antebellum era, minus the slavery. I think it was the high point in Southern culture. It was at this time that Southern honor was at its apex. In some areas of the South, you can still experience the hospitality that we have historically been known for. That’s what I like about anachronistic groups like the Madison Belles. They encompass all those good things we want to hold onto. I hope that someone in town can develop a male counterpart. Maybe then we can slowly, but surely restore that rich Southern heritage that seems to be so sadly diminished today.