In 2000, Linda Miller and a friend went to the Seaside Fourth of July parade and took note that the only performance was by the girls who work in Seaside.
They performed a hula and won first place.
"I thought, 'hmmm,'" recalls Miller. "I decided it would be fun to get our group of high-school majorettes back together from high school and twirl our batons in the next parade to celebrate my 50th birthday. I thought we could win, and twirling is becoming a lost art."
So, they did it.
Miller organized six majorettes and friends who took the name The Twirling American Beauties performed to a patriotic Sousa medley that they choreographed themselves.
"We surprised the Seaside judges and they weren't sure what to do, so they said we tied with the Seaside group for first place," she said. "But all I could think was, 'Really?'"
That just charged the TABs up even more to come back and try harder.
So, the next year, they brought in a secret weapon for the win.
Benny Campbell, Alabama State twirling champion and drum major at Auburn, proved to be just the weapon they needed to take the first-place trophy from the Seaside girls.
Each year the group evolved — going from an 8-foot trailer that looked like something spun from the discarded drapes of Tara — to the big glitzy float they have today. Each year has its memories.
There was the year their music came from a CD on a little boom box, but they found out the hard way it doesn't work due to the humidity. That year, Campbell just clapped his hands and the Twirlers twirled and continued performing.
Now, there is a back-up sound system.
Miller even brought on a professional choreographer and a music productions specialist from Gadsden, Alabama, to make sure the wins kept coming.
"One year it rained and Joe Scarborough was there with his MSNBC big bus. We looked like wet rats, but we still twirled," Miller remembered.
The costumes have spanned between custom-made sequined dresses from Hong Kong to the current home-spun cooler and more flattering tent-style dresses that are still very sparkly.
"We always wear tiaras and majorette boots. I still have mine from high school and wear them every year," Miller said proudly.
Through the years, members of the Twirling American Beauties have come and gone, beginning with Miller's real estate partner and best friend at the beach, Susan Sullivan, who was killed in a car accident. Then two of the original Choctaw County High School majorettes died from illnesses.
The first-ever TABS Fan Club President, Kay Raines, tragically died this year.
Her best friend Dixie Minatra has always twirled with her, the one consistent TABS member.
"One year it was just us and my two granddaughters," said Miller. "But we keep on twirling. I tried to quit when I turned 60 because some people would say 'nobody wants to watch a bunch of old women twirl batons,' but our fans told us they did. We have had so much fun."
But this year with the celebration of Campbell's 65th birthday, the Twirling American Beauties are calling it quits.
"I thank Seaside from the bottom of my heart for providing us with the perfect venue to continue to perform and celebrate America's birthday and mine the next day — the 5th of Ju-Linda – for 17 years," said Miller, becoming nostalgic.
However, she is looking forward to being able to take the week of her birthday off and take a trip for a change.
"Parades are a lot of work," said Miller.