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Tradition revived at May Day celebration
Fair Street event urges queens to take active role in community
Tanija Westbrooks wraps a ribbon around the may pole during a May Day celebration Saturday at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School. - photo by Brandee Thomas

With a gentle breeze blowing and the sun shining brightly, it seemed as if even the heavens were happy to see the May Day celebration continue Saturday at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School.

Although the May celebrations on Fair Street's front lawn were once an annual tradition, the event had fallen by the wayside until the Genesis Council revived it last year.

Saturday, May Day queens and princesses took their place of honor before the assembled crowd for only the second time since 1954, when the last May Day event was held.

"I'm so happy to present our queen and court," said Qiana Keith, executive director of the Genesis Council, which is a project of The Newtown Florist Club.

Brenda Colbert was presented to the crowd as the "queen mother" and Charlyne Holland was the May Day queen. From the open-toe sandals on their feet to the intricate hats placed upon their heads, both ladies were dressed in all white, a Fair Street May Day tradition.

While the queens wore pristine white dresses, the court's princesses were decked out in a rainbow of spring colors.

The goal of the celebration was to not only showcase female role models, but to also inspire the girls on the court to become positive influences in their community, Keith said.

While the queens were appointed by the council, the princesses were selected by their schools or churches to represent on the May Day court.

During the ceremony, the Colbert and Holland took turns "crowning" each of the 20 princesses with headbands adorned with a brightly colored flower.

"That was my favorite part - getting my head band," said Tanija Westbrooks, a 6-year-old princess.

Her sister, enjoyed a different part of the festivities.
"I liked wrapping the May pole," said Jessica Westbrooks, who was representing St. Paul Methodist Church with Tanija.

"I liked holding the ribbon and going over and under the other ones."

For their mother, Patrice Westbrooks, watching her girls participate in the May Day celebration was a great way of spending her Saturday morning.

"This was our second year participating. It's nice for the girls to get to spend time with other girls," Westbrooks said.

"And I like that it is a tradition. I like having them be a part of the history of Gainesville."