I’m Just Saying – “The Winner Is …”
Another includes being asked, yet again, to be a mentor and the Mistress of Ceremonies for the 2014 Miss Aquafest Pageant in Lake Stevens this June. Not having anything but a negative image of pageants, and despising anything with a “reality” TV flavor, I have to admit that I initially declined. I am the daughter of conservative educators, for goodness sake. Taffeta and tiara’s? Not in my childhood. I couldn’t have big hair if I tried.
But, initiated into Miss Aquafest’s community service based format and the lasting benefits to the young ladies from throughout Snohomish County who participate, I find myself anxiously awaiting being invited every year and, yes, excited to play a small role in the event. Before I completely lose you, here is the what and why in my change of heart.
First the what. Pageants, I have learned, have many different platforms and purposes. The Miss Aquafest Pageant is an age appropriate scholarship program that grants winning contestants with a title and financial award, for sure, but also with the responsibility of representing Snohomish County throughout the region. The Royalty travel to festivals and charity events during the year, are notable at Chamber of Commerce activities, lakeside at Rowing Regattas and the Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 triathlon and the moving memorials commemorating Veterans and Memorial Day. In recent years, the Miss Aquafest Royalty have raised awareness and donations for the American Cancer Society by participating in Relay for Life, have walked for the March of Dimes and participate in local community events like Night Out Against Crime and the Downtown Lake Stevens Halloween Trick or Treat Carnival. Many of the Miss Aquafest participants have been honored to receive the Presidential Service Award, extended to those who have impressive amounts of service hours. One recipient recently had over 300 hours of invested time in her community. Pageant participants are coached in one on one interview skills, public speaking, stage presence and presenting a talent at their choice. I have witnessed the shyest child be able to stand in front of a full auditorium and boldly introduce herself. Crowned or not, she wins.
Now the why. I ask you, how is making young people aware of the needs of a community and their individual ability to make a difference a bad thing? In another of my story lines, I have the opportunity to sit on a panel that conducts mock interviews and conversational skills for young people entering the job market. How I wish that everyone sitting in front of me could have some kind of volunteer or life experience like what I have seen these young ladies be able to take advantage of. Be it scouting, volunteering at community events, interning, kindness/anti-bullying or drug abuse awareness campaigns, attending and participating in public meetings, taking advantage of youth groups, church opportunities, athletic and music clubs. Pageants might not be your experience choice but something is, I promise you. Find it.
Footnote: I would encourage those interested in participating in any aspect of Aquafest to visit aquafest.org for more information. Community events can be found on city and Chamber of Commerce websites. Publications, both print and online, post future events and needs in your community.