ST. PETERSBURG — The Women of the Woodson treated 17 glowing Melrose Elementary School girls to a Cinderella-like weekend entitled Christmas Silver Spoon Tea Party. The fit-for-a-princess fantasy weekend culminated in the lighting of the spectacular Christmas tree adorning the Carter G. Woodson Museum African American Museum Sun., Dec. 6.
“The Women of the Woodson have adopted the Girlfriends of Melrose Elementary School,” said Terri Lipsey Scott, board chair of the museum.
“We celebrated 17 little girls this weekend. We started with lunch at the [St. Petersburg] Country Club. We did nails, we did hair at the Bonjour CaVa Salon and Spa with Beatrice Morris, Frechette Bradley and Kenyatta Killins. They had a slumber party and spent the night in a suite in downtown St. Pete.”
Each of the little girls was blessed with new dresses, pajamas, slippers and under garments. Sunday morning they were limo driven around town and stopped at several sites in the city. Top photographer Rodney Newsome was there to capture the whole experience.
The 17 girls ended their busy, luxurious day with a proper tea party at the Woodson. Each of the girls was assigned a mentor who escorted them to their final destination where they met up with the queen herself.
“God has been very good to me to be able to come back to this community and be a part of the Silver Spoon Tea Party with Mrs. Terri and the Carter G. Woodson Museum,” said Erika Dunlap, who was crowned Miss Florida in 2003 and became 2004 Miss America.
“To be dressed up and put into a limo, that’s an unbelievable experience for any nine or 10 year old. They now know what it takes to present themselves well and to be a lady…that’s very important to us,” said Dunlap.
The queen shared with the little princesses that growing up she felt she was ugly.
“That was a challenge for me growing up dark skin to think that I was pretty, that I was beautiful. At events in our neighborhood the lighter skin girls would get all the favor but the darker skinned girls would be kind of in the background. So it was very important for me to be here to express to all the girls, especially the dark skin girls that you’re beautiful no matter what hue you are. You have to see your beauty for yourself,” exclaimed Dunlap.
Dunlap punctuated the essence of knowing and feeling one’s own inner beauty. “You have to celebrate yourself so that no one thinks they can compromise you or you compromise yourself.”
As well-wishers looked on as Scott introduced each girl who received gifts from their adult female mentor in the courtyard decorated for the Christmas holidays, a spirit of wellness and solidarity warmed the chilled fall air.
The girls were sponsored by Dana Battle, Thelma McCloud, Cynthia Jenkins, Rachella Moody, Frechette Bradley, Beatrice Morris, Rita Wesley, Donna McRae, Ya La Ford, Jenee Skipper, Manitia Moultrie, Jacqueline Gayle Kelly, Colleen Vieux, Brenda Gordon, Erika Lopez, Shannon Ligon and Terri Lipsey Scott.
The princesses from Melrose were Sanyiah McRae, Kloie Thomas, Asihya Madison, Solanzje Jones, Alexia Levesque, Taniya Bell, Diamond Witchard, Anaya Graham, Malazzha McDaniel, Alana Gipson, Nevaeh Gamble, Mykeira Webb, LaNiya McCaulla, Shavion Hobbs, Tyzeona Gray, DaNiyia Gray and Samaria Tunsil.
The women who provided special assistance to make the Christmas Silver Spoon Tea Party Weekend a success were Roslyn Graham, Yolanda Hudson and Ashley Scott.
Special thanks to Melrose teachers: Shaday Lackey, Caprice Johnson, Shenoah Washington Davis, Jennifer Jackson and Ottesha Williams. Major sponsors of the event were Duke Energy, Marriott, Walmart, Exceptional Dental and Mt. Zion Human Services.