Congratulations! We proudly welcome you to the Miss American Coed Pageant Family! You have qualified as a State Finalist in one of the largest and most prestigious pageant systems in the world! Pageant weekend will be filled with fun and excitement for the entire family while you display your poise, personality, enthusiasm, and intelligence during the various areas of competition… Miss American Coed Pageants are not the typical “walk across the stage” pageant where only appearance matters. Contestant’s appearance is important, but no more so than their unique personality, ability to get along with others, and achievements. Today is the day to start preparing for the pageant weekend! Good luck! And… don’t forget your SMILE!”
Gazing at my reflection in the Hilton’s full-length mirror, I realized how truly nervous I appeared. It seemed as though only weeks had passed since I received my letter of Congratulations from the pageant director in May. Yet somehow Labor Day weekend crept up on me, and here I am, stepping into my eleven hundred-dollar pageant gown.
As the directors promised, this weekend had been filled with fun and excitement. At the “get acquainted” luncheon in June I bonded with three Jr. Teen contestants from Connecticut, Lindsay, Annie, and Cathy. It was so awesome to see them again! There was a Hawaiian Luau the first night, where I got acquainted with more of the contestants. Like me, everyone just wanted to have fun!
Last night was most nerve-racking of all. Dressed in my gown, I was escorted individually on stage, where I introduced myself and modeled before a full audience and the panel of judges.
Today the personal interviews took place. As I walked into the interview room I appeared calm and collected, but in reality I felt as nervous as I did the prior night onstage.
Tonight was the main event. The Miss Southern New England Teen Pageant began in one hour. I nervously ran my manicured fingertips through my hair, as my mother zipped up my gown.
“You look beautiful,” my mother commented, turning me around to face her.
“Thanks,” I replied smiling back at her. “I’m not even that nervous anymore. It’s not like we get judged tonight. They have already made up their minds so tonight we just find out the results.”
There was a fast set of knocks on the door, “That must be Lindsay,” my mom said, walking towards the door. “She called when you were putting on your makeup.”
A second later I was engulfed in Lindsay’s arms. “Hi hun!” I cried, squeezing her tightly. “Are you nervous?”
“Yeah,” Lindsay smiled widely. “But I am so excited!”
“Me too!” I exclaimed, stepping back to observe Lindsay’s appearance. “You look so pretty!”
“Omigod, so do you!” Lindsay replied gesturing towards my gown. “We’re going to be Southern New England’s Miss Teen and Jr. Teen! And we’ll go to Florida together for the National Pageant!”
“That would be nice,” I sighed. “I can not believe we are already here. I mean this is it, the final night!” I cried, squeezing Lindsay’s hand.
“I am so glad that we’re not competing against each other,” Lindsay commented as we stepped out of my hotel room.
“What do you mean?” I asked, although I completely agree.
“Well for a lot of reasons,” Lindsay shrugged. “We could get to go to Florida together, we never had to worry about competition coming between us, and there was never even a threat of jealousy.”
“Yeah good call,” I agreed as we stepped into the elevator. “Well here we go…”
“It is now the last time for the contestants to walk up on stage before the panel of judges,” the emcee announced. Contestant by contestant we rose onto stage in order of our assigned ID number. I was Teen number 19. The sub-category awards had just been given out. I was awarded with the Academic Achievement Award for maintaining the most impressive academic record out of all seventy-five New England finalists. It would soon be time for the judges to announce the “Top-ten”. The Top-ten were the contestants who the judges believed best represented good character, gracefulness, intelligence, and beauty. After taking my final group walk across the stage, I took my seat anxiously awaiting the results…
“Jr. Teen number six, Lindsay Bogart!” The emcee announced, calling Lindsay up on stage as a Jr. Teen Top-Ten.
I cheered so loud for her that tears welled up inside of my eyes. I felt as though I had been called up on stage with her! Not only did she make the Top-Ten; she became Miss Connecticut Jr. Teen first runner up!
“And now it is time to announce the Miss Southern New England Teen Top-Ten!” the emcee exclaimed as silence rushed over the audience. “The first semi-finalist in no particular order… Next, teen number nineteen, Stacy Padula!” My jaw dropped open, as I jumped off of my seat. Cheers rang out all around from my fellow contestants, my new friends. A smile veneered my lips as I made my way down the isle. Stepping onto the stage, I lifted up my dress and tried to contain my grace and dignity. (On the inside however, I was dynamically exploding!) I left Connecticut the next morning with three trophies, a banner, a plaque, a Miss Southern New England Teen semi-finalist title, and friendships that will out-live anything previously mentioned. Congratulations Lindsay, Mary, Annie, Cathy, Tiffany, Andrea, and all my pageant friends, we did it!