DOVER –– Eleven young women will be donning their tiaras and sashes Saturday night as they walk across the stage at Dover Downs’ Rollins Center, each vying for the title of Miss Delaware.
“These are some of the brightest, most talented and most community-involved women in the state,” said Miss Delaware Executive Director Laura Moylan. “The contestants represent what this program is truly about.”
In previous years, the competition has spanned three nights with nearly 20 contestants. But this year, the field has 11 contestants and has been condensed into a single evening.
Delaware was one of four states reviewed last year by the Miss America Organization and during the review, a moratorium put a halt to all Delaware pageants between November and January, the months where nearly half the state’s local pageants typically take place.The current Miss Delaware Brittany Lewis will relinquish her crown Saturday night at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino’s Rollins Center as the new Miss Delaware will be named. (Delaware State News file photo)[/caption]
“The leadership of our organization had to present our plans and mission which took a lot of hard work, but our new leadership came will a lot of passion and energy,” Ms Moylan said. “Everyone involved is very committed to the program.”
In 2014, the Miss Delaware Organization went through some turmoil that made national news — the dethroning of Amanda Longacre only two weeks after the crowning when it was discovered her birth date did not fall within the required period for Miss America contestants.
Rules state that contestants in the Miss America pageant must be 17 to 24 years old. Ms. Longacre turned 25 in October, a month after the competition.
As a result, Miss Delaware runner-up Brittany Lewis was crowned.
“The rules have been reviewed all the way from Miss America down to the local pageants to ensure contestants meet all the qualifications,” Ms. Moylan said.
“There are now added safeguards to ensure that such an issue doesn’t happen again in the future.”
Mikaila Ryan, Miss Capital, is one of the newer contestants to the pageant world, starting competition when she graduated from Middletown High School in 2010.
“I was really into theater and music in high school and I realized when I graduated I didn’t have an outlet for it anymore,” she said. “I went to the University of Delaware but there wasn’t any group or club that I really fit into and someone told me about pageants and the talent portion so I decided to try it and fell in love.”
For her talent, Ms. Ryan, 23, will perform “Defying Gravity” from the Broadway musical, “Wicked.”
“I may not be the best singer, but I’ve been doing it since I was probably 3 and when I’m singing, it’s when I’m the most comfortable,” she said. “And choosing a song was easy. ‘Wicked’ is my favorite musical of all time and I’ve seen it three times.”
Ms. Ryan’s platform is “Type No One — Fighting Type One Diabetes.”
“I was inspired to get involved with Type 1 diabetes because one of my friends and one of my cousins have it,” she said. “I actually walked in on my friend unconscious after she had some complications with her diabetes and after that, I knew I needed to get educated because I didn’t want to find myself in another situation where I was waiting for help, not knowing if my friend would ever wake up or not.”
Since getting involved with diabetes awareness, Ms. Ryan has volunteered with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) on a regular basis.
“If I’m crowned Miss Delaware, I’d like to take advantage of my position to make JDRF an organization known in every household and to get more information to the public about type one diabetes,” she said.
Miss Diamond State Amanda Debus, 22, also of Middletown, is competing for the title for a fourth time. She has been doing pageants since high school and in 2008 was crowned Miss Delaware Outstanding Teen.
“I first got into pageants because I knew a former Miss Delaware and she told me she thought it would be a good
outlet for me because I have been dancing since I was 2 and was also a competitive baton twirler,” she said.
Ms. Debus’ talent is contemporary ballet and she will perform a routine to the song “Call Me Home.”
Her platform is “All-Aware: Allergy and Asthma Awareness.”
“I have several allergies and know how hard it can be to live a normal life sometimes,” she said. “I want to be an advocate for those who can’t be their own advocate.”
Miss First State Emalie Lawson, the youngest contestant at 17, is a first-time Miss Delaware contestant from Hartly but pageants are nothing new to the recent Dover High grad, having competed since she was 5 years old.
“There’s a real sense of community behind the organization and I’ve come to be good friends with a lot of the girls,”
she said. “It’s a great way to meet people and get out into the community.”
Her talent is dance and she will perform a contemporary jazz enpointe piece entitled “Last Dance.”
Ms. Lawson’s platform is “Literacy for Elementary Age Children,” an issue she’s been passionate about her whole life.
“I’ve always loved reading and I want others to love it too,” she said. “Reading is important not only for enjoyment. It’s important in all aspects of life and if you’re a good reader, it will help many areas of your life.”
She regularly volunteers in kindergarten classrooms.
“If I win the crown, I want to continue to promote my platform and visit as many classrooms as possible,” Ms. Lawson said. “I also want people to know that pageants are about giving back and helping the community, not just having a pretty face.”
Saturday's pageant will be hosted by 2010 Miss Delaware Kayla Martell.
The Miss Delaware Scholarship Organization is raffling an ultimate Disney Package in an effort to raise scholarship funds for young women of Delaware.
The Disney Package, valued at $2,500, includes:
•Four Park Hopper tickets to the recipient’s choice of four Disney parks around the world — Walt Disney World Resort in Florida including Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios; Disneyland Resort in California including Disney California Adventure; Disneyland Paris; and Hong Kong Disneyland.
They will be valid for a family of four for one day at the park or a family of two for two days at the park. Children 3 years of age and younger do not require a ticket into the parks.
•Hotel and air voucher for $1,000 for a family of four or $500 for a family of two.
•$250 VISA gift card and a $100 Disney Store gift card.
A limited number of raffle tickets will also be available for purchase at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino during tonight’s Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen Competition Saturday’s Miss Delaware Competition.
One raffle winner will be selected and announced at the Miss Delaware competition on Saturday. The winner does not need to be present to accept the award.
Miss Teen Delaware tonight
Miss Delaware’s Outstanding Teen Competition, the prelude to the Miss Delaware Competition, is scheduled for tonight at 7:30 at Dover Downs. Eight young women are competing for the title. Tickets are $40 for seats or $55 for tables of six.
The Miss Delaware competition starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday with doors opening at 7. Tickets are $50 per seat or $65 per table of six.
“All these young ladies are so dedicated and committed to their platforms and the community and I wish I knew who is going to win, but all the girls are exceptional,” Ms. Moylan said.
For tickets, call V.I.P. Reservations at 800-711-5882 or visit www.doverdowns.com.