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Probably the most commonly believed misconception about pageantry is that the contenders are constantly at each other’s throats. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Instead of throwing red paint on our competition’s evening gowns, we’re literally hugging, laughing, and sharing makeup backstage. I met a handful of my very best friends during my time in the Miss America Organization, so I can’t wait to get to know more of the girls in the Miss Florida USA family!
Also, there’s a certain bond titleholders from bordering areas share. Whether or not you were crowned together is irrelevant; if you represent communities with overlapping boundaries, you’re essentially unofficial sister queens… and as the tortured sister of two older brothers, I love being a sister queen. When the director of Miss Florida USA invited me to Miss St. Petersburg USA, I jumped at the opportunity as Miss Tampa Bay USA to meet my soon-to-be neighboring queen.My real life and blogger BFF Ashley Brooke and her husband live in St. Petersburg, so she agreed to be my date for the evening. Prior to the pageant, they took me for a scenic stroll of St. Pete, which is one of the most beautiful oceanfront locations in the world, and then to dinner at Rollboto Sushi, an amazing restaurant where you actually get to build your own sushi. Seriously, it’s like Subway, but with sushi rolls. If you’re ever in downtown St. Petersburg, I implore you to visit Rollboto Sushi on 1st Street. Ah-mazing.
I was notified upon arrival that I’d be brought up on stage for a brief interview, but I never thought I’d end up… get this… singing the National Anthem at the podium while the girls were changing into swimsuits. Yep, that happened. Simple Tip: If you’re ever asked what the coolest thing you’ve done with your title has been, don’t say that you’ve “sang” or any synonym for “sang” at a sporting event (Orlando Solar Bears, heyo!) unless you’re prepared to show your chops. Although Ashley describes my disbelief as one of the funniest forms of entertainment she’s seen all year, I ended up giving in and singing the National Anthem to a warm crowd, who patriotically stood up and applauded loudly in encouragement. Although I was embarrassed of my poor quality performance, I guess that’s what Miss Florida is all about. You gotta be prepared to do your thing when you’re called to do it! Lesson learned.
After several other threats of bringing me back on stage for Round 2, I finally entered into the Safety Zone as the judges scores were in, the results were tabulated, and there was no more need for time filling. Due to the competitive nature (ie. high number of contestants) in the teen category, two gorgeous St. Petersurg teen queens, Miss St. Petersburg Teen USA and Miss Safety Harbor Teen USA were crowned. They were beautiful, they were gracious, and they were way more put together than I ever was at 15 or 16. Unfortunately, only one queen was crowned in the Miss division, but the new Miss St. Petersburg USA is a complete doll. I can’t wait to get to know these ladies better!Before the night came to a close, we had a full blown photo shoot with all queens–Teen and Miss, current and outgoing, gown and no gown (womp womp). Also, seeing the director of Tel-Air Studios, Grant, who also triples as the local and state Miss Florida USA director, was so nice. I haven’t seen him since I won my local title, and he’s such a blast.