Friday, July 5, 2013

Miss New Jersey Week 2013!

“Success is not the key to happiness.  Happiness is the key to success.  If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” –Albert Schweitzer

            After writing lots of thank you cards, unpacking plenty of pairs of high heels, and a relaxing week in Myrtle Beach, I give you my post-Miss New Jersey blog!  I have tons of stories and pictures to share, so bear with me! 

            Let’s rewind to Saturday, June 8th….I traveled to Millville to attend the Children’s Specialized Hospitals “Flapjack Fundraiser!”  While I didn’t exactly eat any flapjacks, it was nice to see some of my fellow local titleholders before pageant week.  Not to mention-it’s always an honor to help raise funds for CSH!  From there I put on my princess shoes and gloves in order to play “Belle” at my dance alma mater recital.  Some of my best friends (including Ayla Gentiletti, Miss Cumberland County and Lindsey Petrosh, Miss New Jersey 2012) spent the day together making little girls smile.  All of the little dancers were thrilled to see their favorite Princesses in the lobby before and after the show and I think it really helped calm their nerves!

Pageant girls make great princesses ;)
Distributing trophies to the deserving little dancers :)

            On Sunday, June 10th, I spend most of my day with my amazing seamstress, Debbie Smith!  She altered my interview dress, opening number dress, swimsuit, talent costume, and both my walk-on gown and competition gown.  Together, she and I used our perfectionist ways to find each and every fault in fitting and she somehow made everything fit me like a glove!  I don’t know what I would do without you, Deb!!

            On Monday, I spent the day with my Mom, pampering ourselves, grabbing last minute esentials, and packing the car!  We got manicures and pedicures, I got my spray tan by the lovely Karen McGowan, and we were off!  The drive to Ocean City was so surreal!  I’d been counting down to this moment for months, and it was all right in front of me.  Mom and I spent the night double checking everything and trying to relax before the morning came and it was time to move me into The Forum!
            Before check-in, however, I met with my sister shore girls and our directors for breakfast and a few pep talks.  I am so lucky to be a part of the shore family!  I felt so loved and excited to share this week with my sisters! 

Breakfast at the Point Diner!

            The day took off at the Forum with check-in, and I found out that I would be rooming with Miss Gloucester County, Kelcie Klaus!  Kelcie and I had done several appearances together and I was elated to have been placed with her.  We briefly unpacked and got changed into our homemade t-shirts for day one!  Tuesday was filled with rehearsals, lunch at Augie’s, filming our fitness video, a trip to the Smithville Inn, filming our talent introductions, and more rehearsing!  It was the most active day of the week by far, but a lot of fun!  Thank you to our Producer, John Zisa, Choreographer, Gabby, and their assistant Christina for making rehearsals smooth and enjoyable!  I’d also like to give the Miss New Jersey hostesses a shout out for all they do.  My hostess, Audrey, ROCKS!  All of these gracious women volunteer their time to make sure we are protected, prepared, and relaxed at all times.  Thanks for taking care of us and keeping our spirits up all week!!
                Putting my NJOT luggage to good use :)        Arriving at the Forum Motor Inn!

                                      To the left, I'm representing my hometown of mantua as I sign the state! To the right is Kelcie, my roommate and Miss Gloucester County :)  My T-shirt is decorated to correspond with my parade character, Kissing Kate Barlow, otherwise known as "The Kissing Bandit."
Lunch at Augie's!
      At the Smithville Inn we were able to shop, learn about the history of the Inn, eat an awesome meal, and, of course, take lots of pictures!

            Wednesday we had breakfast at Uncle Bill’s pancake house!  While I refrained from ordering a nice big order of French toast, the meal was still delicious and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with some of the veterans and hearing their anecdotes and advice.  After breakfast, it was off to rehearsal!  I really loved our choreography for each number and truly had a fun time performing (even at rehearsal!).  During a run-through of the opening number, our Little Stars filed into the Music Pier and I had a hard time finishing the dance without wanting to stop and hug my girls!  They watched us rehearse for a bit, then we had time to officially crown them with their star tiaras and have lunch at Primo Pizza!  Brooke, Olivia, and I loved catching up and chatting about how excited we all were!  I told them all about my experience so far and they told me about their plans for a day on the beach!  After lunch, it was time for more rehearsals, but first, we were presented our “gift of the day.”  Yes, that’s right.  We contestants are gifted an item a day from sponsors!  We received a Honora bracelet from Bernie Robbins jewelers on Tuesday, and Wednesday, we all got a Kindle!!  When Joanie Lucas, the sponsor extraordinaire, announced what our gift of the day was, we all shrieked with excitement!  I can’t believe how lucky we are as contestants to have such amazing sponsors.  Thank you to Harrah’s Casino for our Kindles!  I’d tell you what we received each of the remaining days, but I don’t want to leave you green with jealousy ;)    After more rehearsing and dinner at the Chatterbox, it was time for the parade!  With our theme of “Villains down the Venue” I donned my saloon-style dress, boa, and bedazzled cowgirl boots for my presentation of Kissing Kate Barlow, better known as “The Kissing Bandit!”  Thank you, Jeff, for driving all the way from Delaware to be my driver--cowboy hat, sheriff badge, bandana, and all!  Also thank you to my director, Faith “Grammy” Miller for driving with me and donning a nice cowgirl hat herself!  (I’d also like to take this time to thank Grammy for the NUMEROUS gifts I was showered with each day.  She really spoiled me with the sweetest treasures and good luck cards.)  I had an awesome time in the parade and was excited to see my fan club in full effect for the first time.  They are AWESOME!

            We filed back into the Music Pier after the parade and changed for another rehearsal to end the night.  I was excited to head back to the Forum for some shut-eye before my interview in the morning!  I woke up excited and ready to get moving…which, if you ask my mother, isn’t always the case, morning person I am not!  Kelcie and I were contestants 6 and 4 respectively, so we got ready for interview together and talked all the while to keep our nerves in check.  I don’t know what I would have done without Kelcie!  We would always chat before and after a long day to ease the stresses of being Miss New Jersey newbies!  I was ready with a few minutes to spare and walked down to the lobby at about 8:15.  Louie drove the first four contestants over to another location and I felt like before I knew it, I was in the interview room!  I was surprised to have had an interview I would call “intense.”  The judges had some difficult questions for me and the interview was very fast paced!  While I felt as though I handled it well, I could only hope that the judges thought the same!  Afterward we rode back to the Forum to get changed for rehearsal.  I was happy to have an early interview, because for the rest of the day I could relax and enjoy our practice!  Thursday we had lunch delivered from Del’s and dinner at Periwinkles before getting ready for our first night of preliminaries!  We all looked a bit silly in the lobby because Thursday night brought a torrential downpour!  Shower caps, hoods, umbrellas, and even trash bags, we were escorted by our AMAZING security team to the Music Pier.  They drove up onto the sidewalk to avoid the enormous puddles at the Forum and even backed into the logia of the Music Pier so as to keep us dry.  Those guys don’t get enough credit!  I'd also be remiss if I didn't send a million thank you's to Richard Krauss.  As our official Miss New Jersey Photographer he doesn't miss a thing we do all week and somehow always manages to capture the perfect moment and find our "good side."

                                                     Dinner at Periwinkles with Angie!

Rain, rain, go away!
Opening number!
              At Thursday’s show I performed my talent, “Cinema Italiano.” I myself had a blast and was so proud of my shore sister, Anna Negron for winning preliminary talent! She brought the house down with her rendition of “My Man.” Also, congratulations to my shore sister Kaitlyn Schoeffel, who tied for a swimsuit preliminary award, Krysten Moore for also tying for the swimsuit preliminary award, and another shore sister, Courtney Fairfield for winning the gown preliminary award! I was so happy to be able to see my family and friends after the show and am so grateful to everyone who came to support me. After visitation it was back to the Forum to get as much sleep as possible.

Gotta love a hug from my director, Grammy!
My fan club!!

            Friday morning came quickly, and we began with breakfast at Ove’s! We rehearsed, and had lunch on the Pier courtesy of the Petrosh Family!  They and their friends made a delicious meal and decorated so adorably.  Lindsey even gifted us these beautiful hand-jeweled bags!  Thank you again, Lindsey and the Petrosh family!!  After lunch, we were able to spend a little time with our directors.  It was nice to have a little shore family bonding in the midst of rehearsals!  Afterward, we had dinner at Yianni’s CafĂ©.  The food was SO yummy, and Kelcie and I even boxed up a few desserts to eat in our room AFTER the swimsuit competition was over.  We did some knee-high jogging and squats back to the Forum, and got ready to compete in our second night of preliminaries!  I really enjoyed modeling in swimsuit and evening gown!  Congratulations to Venessa Baez, Ayla Gentiletti, and Katie Skwirut for tying for the talent award.  Also, congratulations to Melissa Hoffman for taking home a swimsuit win and my shore sister, Carissa Palumbo, for winning the evening gown preliminary award!  I was thrilled to see my fan club and soak up some family time.  It was bedtime again and before I knew it, time to wake up!

 Roomie :)
 Ove's in the rain!
 Too cute!
 Fiona and I at lunch!
 Directors' visit at rehearsal!
 Dinner at Yianni's!
 So hard to resist...
 Hard work pays off!

 My little stars, Brooke and Liv!
 Thank you Royal Court for helping me find this gown!
 Ashley Shaffer, my Miss New Jersey big sister while I was
Miss New Jersey's Outsanding Teen back in 2009!
 The "pageant posse'!"
Thank you, Aunt Chell, for being the best
 photographer and biggest supporter out there!
My loving family :)

            On our last day of Miss New Jersey week, I was already sad to see it coming to an end, and the show was still hours away!  Since we had our production numbers down, we were able to spend most of our Saturday relaxing.  We had lunch at the Promenade Food Court, and several hours to ourselves before the show.  Kelcie and I packed our bags and relaxed together in our rooms before it was time to get ready.  Since we had so much time I curled her hair, which helped me take my mind off of the upcoming show!  I felt nervous, but knew that no matter what happened that night, I would be proud of my performance and grateful for the blessings of my first Miss New Jersey Week.

 The shore girls showing off our jackets :)

 Lunch at the Promenade!

Lindsey's first stunt!

            After getting ready and walking to the Music Pier, we were all able to meet our current Miss America, Mallory Hagan.  She is somehow even more beautiful in person and shared some heartfelt words of encouragement.  For the last time, our breathtaking Miss New Jersey, Lindsey, led a group prayer and we all participated in our “All For One” chant.  And with that, it was show time!  In the blink of an eye, Dena began calling the top ten.  My name was called 6th and I cannot express to you how truly elated I was!  I was happy to be able to perform for all of my family and friends (there were over 50 in my “pageant posse”) that had traveled from near and far to support me.  The top ten girls performed in talent, swimsuit, and evening gown before it was time to announce the top five.  I felt honored to be holding hands with the rest of the girls in the top ten, and can truthfully say I did not expect to hear my name called among so many amazing women.  When I heard Dena say that contestant number four had made the top five, I couldn’t believe it!  It was hard to process what was happening while I stood on stage waving at my fan club, whose jaws had all dropped to the floor at this point.  I had watched the Miss New Jersey pageant for years, always wondering how it felt to make the top five.  Now I know that the top five is also wondering what it feels like!  I was in my own little world on stage.  I want to congratulate every single girl for their accomplishments in competing at Miss New Jersey- especially our beautiful new titleholder, Cara.  She will represent our state wonderfully and I cannot wait to cheer her on at Miss America!!  I’ve looked up to some of my fellow contestants for years, and it was so humbling to have shared the week with so many qualified representatives. 
 Everyone with Louie before the show!
 Making top ten!
 Making top five!!
 "Oh my goodness..."
 Top five question with Dena :)
 Final two!
 Go Cara!
 Top five photo :)
 Mom, Dad, Grammy, Vicki, & Christopher at visitation!
The fan club outside the fence of visitation!
          I never expected to be first runner-up to Miss New Jersey, and while it has been my goal to someday hold the esteemed title for quite some time, I am glad to have many more years in the organization. I had an unbelievable amount of fun during Miss New Jersey week and am already hoping to hold another local title and participate next year. Until then, I will continue striving to live a life worthy of the Miss America organization. Thank you for all of the support before, during, and after Miss New Jersey week. I am forever grateful for the people who have been placed in my life. I’ll update you all soon with more community service and appearance news, but until then, take care!