Get Ready to Get AMPed!
Family, fun, and energy are key at the America’s Miss Pageant
The Keystone State of Pennsylvania welcomed excited delegates from across the country as they vied for the twelve prestigious crowns of the America’s Miss Pageant. Delegates would compete for the titles of Sweetheart (0-2 yrs.), Petite (3-4 yrs.), Princess (5-7 yrs.), Darling (8-10 yrs.), Preteen (11-13 yrs.), Jr. Teen (14-16 yrs.), Teen (17-19 yrs.), Miss (20-24 yrs.), Ms. (25-34 yrs.), Elegant (35-49 yrs.) and Exquisite (50+ yrs.). Additionally, the Exemplar title awaited one delegate who truly excelled in promoting the founding ideals of pageantry through her commitment to service, school, and/or career. Pageant week kicked off with the amped up energy of registration, whereby each representative from across the United States was presented with a beautiful rhinestone gift bag as one of the first treats of their weekend. Included in their sparkly bag was a logo blanket, Swarovski crystal crown necklace, and rhinestone shirt to be worn in the opening number. Smiles lit up the registration area as each contestant and their families were sincerely greeted as part of the AMP family. Founded to ensure that girls and women of all ages, body types, and backgrounds would have a fair and positive place to compete, serve their communities, and learn skills to help them achieve success, America’s Miss truly is an organization that stresses respect, family values, and positive pageantry.
Orientation followed the next day with director Trish Farr asking, “Who is the only person that is allowed to be stressed this weekend?” The audience replied with a resounding, “You!” As Orientation closed, the exciting optional competitions (which will now forever be called the AMP-mazing events because they are just too awesome to just be called “optional” any longer) began. Striving to always make each part of the weekend family friendly and a great experience, the AMP-mazing events competition day is followed by an awards banquet that the entire family is invited to enjoy. Each delegate was presented with yet another custom-made rhinestone gift bag that included a mask for the masquerade ball and a gorgeous purple and red rhinestone trimmed photo frame complete with their own picture in it. After feasting on a delicious Italian buffet, the awards for Live Photogenic, Fun Fashion, Supermodel, Spokesmodel, Photogenic, Cover Model, Portfolio, and the signature purple and red fashion event called AMP Wear were given. Winners received a stunning crown, custom ribbon, and custom rhinestone pin. The evening ended with music, dancing, and sweet dreams of the compulsory competitions the next day.
The day of Compulsory and Talent competitions arrived with an ever increasing AMPed up energy level. Though Talent is not a mandatory component of the America’s Miss Queens/Exemplar Queens score, it is so respected at AMP that it is held on compulsory day and has its own set of awards. Compulsory morning begins with one-on-one interviews. Exemplar candidates have a 5 minute interview with a special panel of judges selected for their experience in pageantry and service. Exemplar candidates must speak to their exemplar books which were prepared to demonstrate to the judges’ panel their dedication to service and excellence. All contestants also have a 3-minute one-on-one interview with their panel of judges so the judges can get to know them and see how their communication skills have developed. Interviews are followed by the sensational Runway Fashion modeling category and the elegance of the Evening Gown Competition.
Talent set a new level of AMPed excitement. AMP’s Got Talent for sure, and this year the talent was off the chain! From singers and dancers to saxophone players, more than half of the contestants showcased their special talents. A top 3 were chosen by the judges who were then asked to perform at the next day’s awards finale. But this would have to wait as the contestant favorite AMP Luau, barbecue buffet, and pool party would begin shortly after opening number practice. This is the part of the weekend that everyone really looks forward to. Competitions were now over and everyone could relax and have a great time. A lavish buffet of ribs, fried chicken, burgers with all the fixings, and more were ready for the families to enjoy with everyone replete in their purple leis, which were given out in the morning’s special rhinestone gift bag which contained a luau themed rhinestone shirt, matching bag, and luau outfitted signature AMP teddy bear, Ampie. The music began with the limbo contest providing a fun and jovial atmosphere, with young and old alike dancing in every available space. Even Pop was dancing!
Throughout the weekend, you could find everyone visiting Pop’s Raffle World. One of the biggest parts of AMP is how they give back. America’s Miss supports the St. Vincent’s Center for abused kids and teens throughout the year by collecting Christmas gifts to sponsor individual children and those housed at the center. Both the Queens and staff participate in the Cozies for Chemo program, making blankets for those battling colon cancer while also participating in fundraising walks and donating to individual families in need and much more.
Finals morning arrived bright and early. Following the final opening number practices of the weekend, the delegates and families enjoyed a morning breakfast buffet, and then it was time for the show. A professionally choreographed opening number by staff mentor, emcee, and production manager, Kristen Nasuti, showcased all ages through dance. The top 3 talent acts of the weekend, Brooke Niemiec (Dance), Gabby Majors (Saxophone), and Logan Sekscenski (Dance) performed for the appreciative sold out show.
Showcasing the best that pageantry has to offer, America’s Miss recognized several special awards. The Heart of AMP award is given to the person who most embodies the values and supports the system by referrals. The 2017 Heart of AMP winner was Winnie Jordan from New Jersey. The Spirit of AMP award recipient, Brooke Niemiec, was recognized as the individual who was the most positive, respectful, and ethical person of the weekend. And last but not least, the Pageantry Spirit Award was given to America’s Miss Legacy Queen, Evelyn McCleod for her dedication to pageantry and to the America’s Miss program and values.
Finally, the big moment had arrived with the proclamation of the Exemplar Queens and America’s Miss divisional Queens. Tears of joy and squeals of delight could be seen and heard as the winners were announced. Beaming proudly in the spotlight, America’s Miss National Ambassadors were announced: Darlene Louf (Massachusetts) and Prerana Patel (New Jersey). Taking center stage, the newly crowned 2017-2018 America’s Miss National Royalty joined the AMP sisterhood: Exemplar Queens — Logan Sekscenski (Rhode Island), Alyssa Cusack (New Jersey), Brooke Niemiec (New Jersey), Carrie Wu (Massachusetts), and Samantha Williams (Maryland). Age division national titles were bestowed upon: Sweetheart — Lynnon Williams (Pennsylvania), Petite — Olivia Zink (Connecticut), Princess — Teagan Pendleton (Virginia) Darling – Skyler Anthony (New Jersey), Preteen — Yadira Hinojoza (Connecticut), Jr. Teen — Hailey Johnston (Arizona), Teen — Tahira Gilyard (New York), Miss — Chantel Detriville (Pennsylvania), Ms. — Danielle Van Kampen (New Jersey), Elegant — Janna Sheiman (New Jersey), and Exquisite — Karen Ann Martino (Massachusetts). All were welcomed with the applause and accolades of the crowd. As if the newly crowned Queens and audience could not be more AMPed, it was announced that the titleholders would be going on a Royal Caribbean cruise in addition to enjoying a year of fellowship and service.
With the exciting weekend coming to a rousing finale, the AMP vision of creating a family-centered, positive pageantry experience became a reality. As the America’s Miss Pageant system grows, so does their dream of building a non-profit organization and foundation to give back to those in need and to educate those who need skills to improve their quality of life. In addition to including a Mrs. division, 2018 will see America’s Miss transitioning to Not-for-Profit status, forming the Pop’s World Foundation and doing even bigger and better things while keeping the excitement at an all-time AMPed up energy level.