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October 24, 2014
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You’ve come a long way, baby

2012 Miss Sullivan County AnnaRose Mongiello opened the pageant with the National Anthem.
TRR photos by Jonathan Fox


As the pageant unfolded, each group paraded in “She’s Gone Country”themed Western wear, cowgirl hats perched on top of perfectly coifed creations, toy guns a blazin’ as Mistress of Ceremonies Sarah Martinez introduced the various categories, including age groups, evening wear and interview segments of the competition. Assisted by the 2012 title holders, Martinez kept the show’s pace moving nicely and it quickly became clear that the pageant’s mission is sincere. “Of course it’s a beauty pageant,” Mongiello had shared with me before the big day, “but honestly, it really is so much more. The Sullivan County pageant is about participating actively in the community and fostering self confidence at a time when young girls often place so much emphasis on the external. I experienced so much personal growth during my reign,” she explained, “and it may sound corny, but I honestly embrace the notion that if you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything.”

As the judges deliberated, the 2012 titleholders took the stage with their final words, waving at the crowd and wiping away a few tears as images of the past year played across the screen. Honestly, the ladies got to me. Having spent the last 12 months making personal appearances at a variety of events, each of them had platforms that they wanted to share with the community, and AnnaRose “was grateful for the opportunity to raise awareness” of hers—childhood cancer, and the chance to participate in the Make A Wish Foundation (www.wish.org) and local Relay for Life (www.crystalrunhealthcare.com) events. She remains committed to continuing her involvement, even though she has passed the crown to her successor.

The 2013 winners include Molly Rampe (Young Miss), Lindsay Cruz (preteen), Alyssa McCave (Teen) Jennifer Nolan (Miss), and Tisha Curry (The Oh-So-PC-Ms), and all appeared thrilled to be representing Sullivan County in the coming year. Before experiencing the Sullivan County Pageant, I thought it would be a hoot and probably offer a few good photo ops, but (IMHO) these ladies are the real deal. Down to earth, sweet and sincere, they won me over with their charm, poise and reality check composure of what a beauty queen should be in the 21st century. Real girls (and women) in a real world, being real. With a tip o’ the hat to all involved, I am forced to admit, “You’ve come a long way, Baby.” Keep up the good work.