TUPELO – Her reign comes to an end this week in Vicksburg, but Chelsea Rick will keep forever the memories of her year as Miss Mississippi.
One of her best memories, she said, was being given the opportunity to engage with Tupelo residents after an EF3 tornado ravaged parts of the city.
She met some little girls on North Green Street and took pictures with them.
“I enjoyed being Miss Mississippi so much because it allows me to embrace the part of me that is open to all people,” said the Fulton native. “That’s who I am. I have such a strong belief that it is crucial to show kindness to everyone.”
And just days after the April 28 tornado, Rick was able to offer up some kindness and a warm smile to some of the folks who needed it most.
She’d been taken to different areas of devastation during the day by Mayor Jason Shelton, and near the end of the day, they headed to the north end of Veterans Boulevard.
“It was the last stop of the day,” Rick said. “A lot of folks who were related had lost their homes. Because of the destruction, we could not drive in, so we walked in. People had been working so hard, and all I could do was try to lift their spirits a little.”
Rick spoke with a volunteer firefighter who’d been trying to get home before the storm hit to join his wife in the storm shelter. He got close to home when the winds began lifting his vehicle and slamming it back to the ground, repeatedly.
“He talked about how frightening it was,” Rick said. “But we shared some lighter moments that afternoon, as well. Later, when I told the people good-bye and was walking away, a man called out to me and said, ‘I just wanted to tell you it sure was good to laugh again today.’
“I wasn’t sure if I had done anything worthwhile that day. I know it meant a lot to me. That’s the whole point to me of being Miss Mississippi. That is what it’s all about to me. The personal connections with people, giving them a little hope and encouragement.”
The 2014 Miss Mississippi Pageant is July 9 through July 12 at the Vicksburg Convention Center. It will be broadcast at 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 12 on WLOV-TV.