Everything is coming up roses for Natchitoches

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Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau is a sponsor of the Louisiana float that will include Miss Merry Christmas Emma Rose Giddens, right, and numerous roses and other florals. At left is CVB Executive Director Arlene Gould. Juanice Gray

Juanice Gray
Everything is coming up roses for Miss Merry Christmas Emma Giddens. The NCHS senior was just crowned and life has become a whirlwind of activity and planning, ironically with many things related to her middle name, Rose. Named after her great-grandmother, Emma Rose also has a dog named, you got it, Rosie, and there are even more roses, on a very large scale, in the near future.
Giddens dropped the shocker that Miss Merry Christmas (MMC) was her first pageant. “I’ve always wanted to be in the pageant, to go for Miss Merry Christmas, just because its something I’ve seen growing up and something I’ve wanted to do.”
Being new to pageant life, she had a few obstacles to overcome. “I cannot walk in heels to save my life!” she exclaimed. To prepare for the competition she got some help with walking from Pam Pierce and her daughter Lincoln.
Now that she wears the coveted crown, how does the teen juggle academics (she also takes dual education classes at NSU), her clubs including Leo, Beta, Activate, FCA and FBLA as well as being a defensive specialist on the volleyball team? In a word…responsibly. “I feel like I’ve been able to find a good balance in school and my activities. I’ve had good tips from my peers and my college professors concerning how I can work around studying for exams and doing all my responsibilities and making sure they’re being done at the level they need to be done.”

This article published in the Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022, print edition.

As an ambassador for Natchitoches, as well as a role model for young children, Giddens says she is most excited about making a connection with the little ones. “They see MMC as an inspiration and look up to her as a role model. I can’t wait to be that role model for them. One thing I want to do is to tell them to love others. God has called us all to love people on this earth, that is our mission, and also to bring people to the Kingdom and letting them know more about God.”
There is so much Miss Merry Christmas, and the Belles, must do during their reign. Giddens will emcee the Christmas Angels pageant Oct. 23. “I’m really excited to get to experience that,” she said. Also, they’ll be vising local schools and of course, one of the most well-known perks of their position is working at the Santa Claus House during the holidays. “It is an amazing opportunity to let little ones get to tell me their wish list and I get to see their faces as they experience Santa Claus. At that young age that is something you look forward to all throughout the year. It will be so much fun.”
Giddens sees the responsibilities she has incurred as an honor. “Not many people get to say they’re Miss Merry Christmas for Natchitoches and so I see it as an honor and not as a job at all,” she said.
So is absolutely everything coming up roses? Not exactly. There is one thing she would change, “The weight of the mantle,” she laughs. “It is so heavy, but at the same time it’s tradition, it is stunning and is that piece of tradition that just makes Miss Merry Christmas. I love the go go boots!”
Emma Rose has one opportunity not previously afforded to Miss Merry Christmas and it’s a rose of a different color. She will represent Natchitoches by riding on the Louisiana float in the Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jan. 2, 2023.
Yes, THE Rose parade!
“That was a crazy shock. That is something you always see on TV, and you’re like, I’ll never have the opportunity to be there. Now I’m going to be able to be in that parade and my family and friends are going to be able to watch me on a national platform as Miss Merry Christmas representing Natchitoches.”
Family members including her parents, Mike and April Giddings, grandmothers, Louise Thaxton and Ginger Talley, and siblings, Hannah and Timothy Giddens, will have the opportunity to attend the parade as well. April and Hannah will be walking alongside the float while other family members will view the parade from the grandstand.
Miss Merry Christmas Emma Rose Giddens in the traditional mantle.

This once in a lifetime opportunity was made possible by the Louisiana Office of Tourism and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser as well as the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB).
“Over 400 festivals are held in Louisiana each year and Natchitoches is one of the ones chosen to represent the state on the float,” said Arlene Gould, CVB Executive Director. “The Lt. Governor wanted to recognize Louisiana’s festivals. The Office of Tourism extended an invitation to CVBs to participate and so Natchitoches had that opportunity. We did not want to pass it up. The parade theme is ‘Turning the Corner’ and we will promote our own festival that is about to turn the corner of 100 years.”
Giddens won’t have to worry about what to wear on the float. “We actually found out I’ll be getting a costume designed specifically for Natchitoches Christmas Festival that will be unique to me,” she said.
“This little city will have a national stage. I love the national exposure this will give us. And we will make sure it has the pronunciations (for Natchitoches) on the float!” Gould said.
Giddens hopes her reign and the opportunities she is being given will be a positive message for everyone, especially children. “I hope they see that anything is possible. Me, coming from a position where I’ve never been in a pageant before, I’ve never done anything of this sort, especially on this type of platform.”
Will Giddens pursue pageants in the future? “I’m unsure, but I’m thankful for the Lord’s favors! I mean, how do you top this?”
Her career plans are to go into the medical field, possibly as a pediatric allergist or immunologist.
More information on the Tournament of Roses participation will be forthcoming from the La. Office of Tourism.
Miss Merry Christmas will ride in the Rose Parade on the Louisiana float. The float is sponsored by the Natchitoches Convention and Visitors Bureau and the La. Office of Tourism, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser. Photo by Juanice Gray