JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - After 28 years of marching together in Mal's St. Paddy's Parade, Sweet Potato Queen Jill Conner Browne and parade founder Malcolm White have parted ways.
"Never like to see a break up. It's sort of like George Jones and Tammy Wynette. It's a big divorce for Jackson," said Malcolm White. "I'm trying not to look at it as half empty, but rather as half full. I'm also trying not to take it personally. It is what it is."
Browne made the announcement at the Queens' brunch at the Hilton Sunday. "We're really pumped about it, as pumped as we can be after this weekend," said Browne.
The SPQs will move to the Renaissance in Ridgeland to start a parade of their own. It will take place the fourth week in March, just one week after White's parade.
"This will in no way be in competition with Mal's St. Paddy's Parade. It will be a week later. There is no timing conflict at all," said Browne.
Why leave? The SPQs marched in the back of the parade this year instead of the front. Browne believed it affected their fundraising dollars for Blair E. Batson Children's Hospital. Plus, she said the more than three hour parade was getting too long.
"There's no limit to marchers and I don't think Malcolm ever envisioned that we would have quite so many," said Browne.
White disagreed. He said he does not plan to change anything about the event that brings tens of thousands to downtown Jackson for an afternoon of letting loose.
"The parade is not me. The parade is not Jill. The parade is not Kermit. The parade is not the 'Rude Boys.' The parade is a total of all those parts. I think that is what people come to see," said White.
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