On his 6th birthday, Ayden Birmingham had a crown placed on top of his head. And he didn’t have to go to Burger King for his birthday party to get to wear it.
He was crowned Little Mr. Cherry Blossom on a Saturday morning last November at the Museum of Arts and Sciences auditorium. He was joined on stage by Sophie Durden, who was named Little Miss Cherry Blossom.
Ayden was presented with a bouquet of pink flowers -- he wasn’t quite sure what to think about that -- and fitted for a pink sash from the top of his right shoulder diagonally across his belly button.
A girl teased him about wearing pink. Ayden figured he would just have to get used to it, since his life was going to be the color of cotton candy for a while.
In fact, when I asked Ayden what it was like to be on the royal court during the festival, he found great joy in everything but was less than thrilled about the dress code.
“I have to wear pink,” he said.
It’s safe to say Ayden now has more pink in his wardrobe than all the other boys in his kindergarten class at Byron Elementary combined.
I should have mentioned to him about the T-shirt I got this week that has “Real Men Wear Pink” written across the back. (Only I’m not sure they have it in his size.)
Ayden’s mom, Aimee, is a clinical technician at The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon.
His father, Shane, is a huge Notre Dame fan and wanted an Irish name when his son was born on Nov. 2, 2007.
The Birminghams chose “Ayden,” which means “little fiery one.”
It was fitting since Shane is a Warner Robins firefighter. And Ayden has curly blond hair, blue eyes and leaves a trail of smoke from all those sparks flying beneath his feet.
His middle name is “Duncan,” after his maternal grandparents, David and Shirley Duncan, two of the finest people I know. There is also a royal legacy in the family. Ayden’s aunt, Jamie Spires, was a festival princess in 1994. His cousin Blake Spires, now a junior at First Presbyterian Day School, was Little Mr. Cherry Blossom in 2001.
If he wasn’t dressed in his royal pink garb this spring, Ayden would be wearing a T-ball uniform. But Aimee knew it would be impossible for playing sports to compete with a festival schedule with multiple activities and appearances each day, so she didn’t sign him up.
Ayden is learning his social graces. He is filling his scrapbook with experiences he may not understand or appreciate until he is older -- like having hundreds of females pinch his cheeks and tell him he is adorable.
Last Sunday, he enjoyed a slice of cake to honor the late William Fickling Sr. And he sipped some red raspberry tea at a reception for the Mentor’s Project at the American Red Cross on Tuesday.
Ayden enjoys watching television and is learning to read books. He loves dogs. He told me his favorite food was broccoli, then changed his answer to pepperoni and cheese pizza -- hold the broccoli.
One day, Ayden might best remember his reign as Little Mr. Cherry Blossom because of another food.
Two weeks ago, in the cafeteria at school, he took a bite of an apple and his right front tooth came out with it.
At first, Aimee worried about all the photographs that would be taken of him during the festival, like the one that appeared in The Telegraph after the opening ceremonies.
“All you could see was that big hole in his mouth,” she said, laughing. “He looked like a hillbilly.”
At least he was grinning.
Real Boys Wear Pink.
Reach Gris at 744-4275 or firstname.lastname@example.org.