Arlington girls shine in pageant

MARYSVILLE — More than 50 contestants from across the state and even Canada turned out for the Snohomish County All American Girl preliminary pageant Feb. 27, more than doubling the pageant’s usual preliminary turnout numbers.(Order photo reprints.)

“Our average for the preliminaries is usually 20-25 contestants,” said Lisa Williams, state director for the pageant, at the Marysville Free Methodist Church which hosted the preliminary pageant. “For this one, we’ve got about 56 girls, so it’s going a little slower. In terms of numbers, it’s like we’re conducting a state-level pageant in a single day.”

The girls’ day began with registration and practice sessions from 9-10 a.m., started its interviews of the candidates at 9:45 a.m., conducted its casual wear modeling and personal introductions from the candidates themselves starting at 12:15 p.m., followed with its formal and party wear modeling shortly after 1:30 p.m., and allowed for an optional talent round which began after 3 p.m.

The entrants ranged in age from newborns to young women in their teens, and while there were first-place winners for each age category, an assortment of other awards ensured that every girl walked away a winner.

Marysville’s Brittany Bray, 17, wound up entering the Teen Miss portion of the pageant because her cousins, Sidney Gillaspie and Kelsey Bray of Arlington, had already entered its Mini Miss portion.

“They signed up and asked me to join them,” Brittany Bray said. “It’s been a little crazy. It’s challenging to get everyone ready and in their proper spots, but it’s so rewarding to see how pretty all these girls are.”

“The funnest part of it is being here with you,” Kelsey Bray told Brittany.

Brittany Bray was named Teen Miss and also walked off with awards for prettiest eyes, smile and hair in her age group. As for Kelsey Bray, she won awards for best smile and most energetic for her age group, while Gillaspie was named Mini Miss.

“I’m so excited,” Gillaspie said.

While Gillaspie and the Brays are unsure whether they’ll go on to the state competition, Brittany Bray encouraged all girls to give beauty pageants a try, “at least once.”

Lakewood’s Alexis Miller, 13, was slightly more experienced than first-time pageant contestants such as Gillaspie and the Brays, but not by much. Her own first pageant was Jan. 27 of this year, and she credited Hannah and Asheley Krutsinger, her old school friends and fellow contestants in the All American Girl preliminary pageant, with encouraging her to do it.

“I always watched the pageant shows, and my aunt and my mom both did pageants,” Miller said. “Doing this has made me more confident. I can talk to adults better and do interviews easier. Plus, it’s an adrenaline rush, like when I ride dirt bikes, that gets me pumped up and ready to go.”

Miller admitted to being nervous, especially when playing the violin for the talent portion of the pageant, but that didn’t stop her from being named the Young Miss of the preliminary pageant.

“There’s so little of this that’s actually about competition,” Williams said. “We want to build these girls’ self-esteem, and give them a chance to meet new friends and develop new skills. We’re not about making them into small adults.”

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