2016 Royal Court
King Christian LXXXVI Bennie L. French III &
Queen Christiana Joann Hanson York
Bennie L. French III is a Pass Christian native. He attended elementary school at St. Paul Catholic School, graduated high school from St. Stanislaus College and attends Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
In 1980, he reopened his grandfather's historic business and became owner and manager of Bennie French's Tavern, a popular local meeting spot for many years in Henderson Point. In 1985, he began pursuing a career in Emergency Medical Services. He obtained his EMT-Basic and EMT-Paramedic certifications and has been a nationally registered paramedic for 30 years. He joined Acadian Ambulance Service in 1995 and currently serves as a community and governmental relations supervisor.
Bennie served as the first firefighter/paramedic for the Pass Christian Fire Department. He also volunteered his time and services as a firefighter/paramedic for the Henderson Point Volunteer Fire Department and served as volunteer fire chief for many years. He currently is the disaster evacuation coordinator for all facilities in Jackson County, Mississippi, and in Slidell, Louisiana, and is the medical liaison between Acadian Ambulance and the Mississippi Department of Health, Bureau of EMS, during hurricanes and for all natural and/or manmade disasters.
Bennie has continued to support and volunteer his time at St. Paul's School. He implemented the Pass Parade Parking program, which continues today through the generosity and oversight of the Knights of Columbus. He has also managed the beverage booth at the St. Paul Seafood Festival for a number of years and then became co-chairman of the entire festival for several years.
Bennie is a member of St. Paul Carnival Association and has been involved with the organization for many years. His aunt, Bonita Favre, was Queen Christiana in 1995 and is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her reign this year. Bennie is the brother of Linda French Wittmann, who is the wife of Kenneth C. Wittmann, King Christian LXV in 1995. He is married to Natasha (Davis) French. Their children attended St. Paul Catholic School.
Joann Hanson York is a Pass Christian native. She graduated from Coast Episcopal High School and then attended the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She graduated with honors from the Culinary Institute before going on to a successful career as a chef and small business owner. Joann worked at The Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, The Country Club of Mobile and the Hyatt Hotel, Greenwich, Conn., before opening her own popular restaurant in Pass Christian, The Plantation Cafe.
Joann has generously shared her talent for countless events and fundraisers on the Gulf Coast. She is a member of Holy Family Parish, where she is a Eucharistic Minister; the Co-Chair and Team Leader of the Bereavement Committee; and a member of the Ladies Altar Society. In addition, she is a member of St. Paul Carnival Association and Food Chair for the St. Paul Seafood Festival.
Locals have long enjoyed Joann’s cooking through her businesses as a Private Chef; her signature Wednesday Night Supper Club; and her catering company, Great Bowls of Gumbo. Chef Joann is looking forward to beginning a culinary program soon at the Pass Christian Boys and Girls Club that will promote healthy eating and cooking skills to local youth.
Joann's family connection to St. Paul Carnival Association dates back a century. Joann is the grandniece of Ellen Courtenay, who reigned as queen in 1915, and the grandniece of Thelma Hanson, who was queen in 1917. Her aunts Julia Hanson (Cerra) and Dora Ellen Hanson Pickich reigned as Queen Christiana in 1941 and 1957, respectively, and her uncle Shannon Pickich was King Christian XXVI in 1959. Joann's brother, Herbert Courtenay Hanson, Jr., was King Christian LXXXII in 2012. Joann’s son, Daniel, attended St. Paul Catholic School.