2024 King and Queen Announced

Gulf Coast Carnival Association King and Queen portraits at Golden Nugget Biloxi in Biloxi, Mississippi, on January 19, 2024. Photo by James Edward Bates.

KING BILLY F. THORNTON

Billy F. Thornton of Gulfport is the husband of Sylvia Tollison Thornton. He attended Long Beach High School where he graduated with Honors and was voted friendliest. He went on to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where he earned an Associate Degree in General Business. Among his many student honors and leadership roles, Billy was elected president of the freshman class, president of the Student Body, Mr. JD and graduated with Honors. He was inducted into the MGCCC Alumni Hall of Fame in 2019. After graduating from MGCCC, he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Administration and Personnel Management from the University of Southern Mississippi, where the professors of the Business School tapped him into the circle of Omicron Delta Kappa, a National Leadership Honor Society. He also graduated from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School’s Executive Master’s Program. In 1988, Thornton received the opportunity to work in Congress as executive assistant to U.S. Congressman Larkin Smith, R-Mississippi, until the Congressman’s death in 1989. He currently serves as Mississippi Power’s Vice President of External Affairs and Shared Services, joining the company’s Management Council in 2012. He is responsible for oversight of several departments, including Federal and State Governmental and Community Affairs, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs, Public Relations, General Services, Corporate and Foundation Giving, Supply Chain and Technology Organization.

Billy is a graduate of Leadership Mississippi and the Master’s Leadership Program Gulf Coast. He is currently President of the Harrison County Development Commission, the Mississippi Gulf Coast Foreign Trade Zone and serves on the boards of the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Museum, Mississippi Manufacturers Association, Mississippi Energy Institute, Center for Manufacturing Excellence at the University of Mississippi, the National Oceans and Applications Research Center (NORAC) as an appointee of the governor and the Gulf Coast Business Council Board of Directors.

Billy served as Duke in 2020.

QUEEN ELIZABETH ANNE POLK         

Elizabeth Anne Polk is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Hal Polk of Biloxi, MS.  Her maternal grandparents are Ms. Patricia A. Galle’ and the late Mr. Keith M. Galle’.  Her paternal grandparents are the late Mr. and Mrs. Hal M. Polk.

Elizabeth graduated in 2019 from Biloxi High School with highest honors.  She was a member of the National Honor Society, National Beta Club, Mu Alpha Theta, Key Club, Environmental Club, the Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi-Ocean Springs Crown Club, and was a Gabrielle’s Trendsetter.  She attended American Legion Magnolia Girls State, Donald Zacharias Leadership Conference, and Biloxi Chamber of Commerce Junior Leadership.  Elizabeth was a varsity softball player, a baseball diamond girl, and elected Biloxi High School most school spirited.

She graduated Cum Laude in May 2023 from Mississippi State University, where she studied Business Administration with a Minor in Marketing. She was on the President’s List, a member of the Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, Risk Management and Insurance Program, Catholic Campus Ministry, and Phi Mu Sorority, where she served as Vice President of Committees, House Manager and Recording Secretary.  Elizabeth was the recipient of the John M. and Elizabeth Beeman Bleuer and Old Main Scholarships and was awarded the Student Success Scholar Award.  

She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Southern Mississippi.  Elizabeth is employed by the Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum in Biloxi.

Elizabeth is a member of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Biloxi, MS., and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Starkville.  She volunteers her time with Loaves and Fishes of Biloxi.  Elizabeth was a 2021 Gulf Coast Debutante. She is a member of Les Masquees and the Order of Billikins.

Elizabeth served as a page to King d’Iberville 2012, Mark Mavar, as a flag bearer in 2014, as Key Girl in 2019 and a maid to Queen Ixolib in 2023.  Her mother, Melissa Galle’ Polk, served as a maid in 1994 and currently serves on the GCCA Board of Directors.  Her father, Stephen Hal Polk, served as a duke to King d’Iberville in 2009, Lieutenant of Carnival 2014-2015, Captain of Carnival 2016-2017 and currently serves as a GCCA Board of Director.