Sunday, July 24, 2011

Drop Dead Gorgeous

Every year, around this time, pageant season - Miss Thousand Islands season - I get this craving to watch one of my favorite movies, Drop Dead Gorgeous. It is a mockery of pageants, and a dark one at that. But for whatever reason, it gets me in the zone. So, as I struggle to put my year into words for my farewell letter, I decided I would watch it and finish blogging about Miss New York and my appearances since then.

Miss New York Pageant

My experience competing in Miss New York cannot be properly put into words. As I am sure I have expressed, I was changed in the best possible way during my time in Staten Island through all of the events and appearances that we, my sisters and I, were so lucky to be a part of.

Pageants are fun. That's the simple answer when I'm asked what I like about pageants. Miss New York was exactly that, but more than being fun, it completely challenged me, and forced me to push myself harder than ever before. You have to understand that I was competing with girls who attend some of the most prestigious arts schools in the country and who are auditioning on broadway. Of course, this was intimidating. I went into this entire experience with a specific goal set for myself. As I learned, in pageants you compete with yourself, not against the other girls. Who will win the crown is beyond your control, so the best thing to do is to have fun, be confident, and as my mom always tells me, to sparkle. Anyway, my goal was to make it to the top 11. After that, I left it up to God to decide what was best for me.

As the saying goes, a picture speaks 1000 words, so without saying anything else...

I reached my goal! And it felt good.

I was so honored to have the chance to continue to compete. I was in almost complete shock the rest of the pageant, but was elated to represent my fellow "upstate girls" in the final competition.

In the end, it was time for us all to gather on stage and embrace the winner as she began her journey as Miss New York. When Kaitlin Monte's name was called as our Miss New York 2011, I was so happy! This is one of the best parts of this organization and the girls who are involved in it. Because of the amount of time we spend with our fellow competitors, we get to know them, become close friends with them, and in that way we are always happy for the girl who leaves with a crown. Kaitlin is so deserving of this job, and I am confident that she will make us all proud not only at Miss America pageant in January, but also throughout her year as Miss New York 2011.

I would like to take this time to thank the Miss New York Board of Directors, Miss New York 2010 Claire Buffie, Miss America 2008 Kirsten Haglund, Miss New York 2008 Leigh-Taylor Smith, my MNY sisters, especially my roommate DesireƩ Wiley (Buffalo), and of course the Miss Thousand Islands Board of Directors, especially Sue, Shelby, Gary, Deltra, Stan, and Corri, my family, friends, and my boyfriend, Tony, for helping to make this experience what is was. I love you all!

I am also proud to announce that I was awarded several scholarships at the pageant, helping me to pay for school.
I was awarded the Miss America Community Service Award of $1000, which is a huge honor. I was also ecstatic to be named Miss New York's Favorite Contestant, for which I was awarded $400. This award was based on online voting that raised money for the scholarship fund, so I am forever grateful to all of those who voted me as their favorite contestant! I was also awarded $350 for being in the top 11. Lastly, I was awarded a community marketing award for over $200 for selling the most program advertisements. More than the money however was the numerous opportunities that I was afforded because I was able to participate in this program.


Since states, I have been extremely busy working 40 hours a week at the Crescent Yacht Club Junior Division Swim and Sail program where I am a Swim Instructor. Aside from work, and coursework for online classes, I have found time to relax and spend time with friends and family. Now, I am preparing to crown my successor on August 13 at Miss Thousand Islands 2012.

On July 9, I was scheduled to be in the French Festival parade in Cape Vincent. It would be my last official appearance as Miss Thousand Islands 2011. I woke up that morning with a terrible stomach bug and didn't think I'd be able to go. I knew I had to be there though, so I powered through and headed to the parade. I am so glad that I was able to be there, and had a blast!

The next weekend, I was so excited to meet some of our contestants at the pageant workshop, held at the home of Deltra Willis. During the workshop we did mock interviews with the girls, like the ones that I did in preparation for the state pageant, and had a modeling session to help the girls learn to pageant model. The girls also had a make up tutorial with a Mary kay consultant, and learned about the pageant weekend schedule and other details! We ended the workshop with photo ops on Deltra's pond and tree house!

Now that the movie has ended and I am just finishing this post, it is time for me to get to work on my farewell letter. So, that's all for now!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miss New York 2011!

It's been just a week since my last day in Staten Island, and it was only two weeks ago that I was packing to leave for Miss New York State Week! It's hard to believe that after ten months of excitement and preparation leading up to the big state pageant, that it is now over. I have spent the last seven days digesting it all - relaxing, spending time with my family, friends, and of course, the best pageant boyfriend a girl could ask for. Oh, and of course, all of this has been done over FOOD! So, I suppose I have made you all wait long enough, so I will get to it, and share with you some of my most fond memories of the week!

Monday, June 13 (City Hall with Mayor Bloomberg, Staten Island Ferry, Postcards, Burrough Hall, Mr. NY)

It all started out at 2:30am on June 13. It wouldn't be a story if there wasn't some kind of adventure to kick start the week, so here we go. After hours of being on hold with Travelocity, in regard to the flight that I had booked and a Travelocity website error that changed it on me, just 48 hours before departure, I had a new flight, paid, in full. With a departure time of 5:40am from Syracuse, my dad and I were up VERY early Monday morning to drive to the airport, of course leaving time to check my luggage and get through security. In the past, I have been stopped and checked because of a make up brush that resembled a possible weapon, so as you can imagine, having packed for a PAGEANT, the contents of my luggage are a little concerning! It's a good thing I had other worries upon my arrival to the airport to distract me from looking suspicious at TSA. Oh yes, a trip to the airport is seldom smooth. After making a wrong turn - granted it was 4:45am, and dark - my dad and I spent fifteen minutes circling a clover leaf, over and over and over and over again. As we rounded the corner of the same turn a fourth time, I really started to freak out. I'm watching the digital clock in the car change from 5:10 to 5:11, and know that I should be at the airport. Finally, we get ourselves straightened out and arrive at the airport, but not without hurry. The stress didn't stop there either. After rushing to the US Airways check-in desk, and heaving my suitcase (that I had reluctantly agreed to check) onto the scale, I was greeted by the desk attendant: "There are no guarantees that you'll make the flight. Your bag is 17 pounds over - that's $90." Now, if you know me well, you know that I do not respond well to poor customer service, but at this point, I knew I had to get to my gate, and fast. I throw her a credit card, and in no less than a sprint, kiss my dad goodbye as he checks the bag, now labeled "HEAVY", and head for security. I have never realized how much of an inconvenience it is to take off your shoes at this point, and unload specialty items from your carry on, until this morning when I really just needed to get through. Needless to say, once I was through the scanner and had all of my belongings, I took my morning run, barefoot, through the Hancock International Airport. It's a good thing my Miss NY preparation included running, because I just made it to the gate. Actually, I had several minutes, but of course was still shaken by the idea of having to take a later flight. And just as I thought I was finally going to be able to sit down, the flight attendant informs me that there may not be room for my carry on, which I must add, was literally packed with every single piece of my competition wardrobe. My family and I had lost our baggage, temporarily, on a vacation to the Caribbean, and the event was so scarring that we now try to carry on as much as possible. In fear of losing my entire competition wardrobe including my evening gown, talent gown, shows, jewelry, and other outfits, my mom and I strategically packed the regulation size carry on. With this in mind, I said to the flight attendant, "I'm competing in Miss New York, and that is where I am going right now. That bag has my gowns and competition wardrobe - I need it." They found room. :-) The rest of the trip went very well, with the exception of being bumped up to an earlier flight without my checked luggage that caused me to wait at the airport. But hey, I'd rather wait for baggage than lose it! It was at the airport in Newark that I met up with my first MNY (Miss New York) sister and roommate, Miss Buffalo, DesireƩ Wiley! A friendly face after my hectic morning was just what I needed!

Arriving at the hotel, after a speedy and crazy ride with a nice shuttle driver, made everything seem so real! All of my MNY sisters were checking in to their rooms, unloading cars chocked full of pageant gear, and mingling with family and friends in the lobby. I was excited to get to my room and unpack, and of course, freshen up from my flight - our bus was leaving at noon for our first appearance! We all met in the lobby, and for the first time since our spring workshop, we were all together as a class! (A quick note - we refer to the group of contestants as a class...not sure why, but it makes sense because of the closeness that we share the sisterhood that develops, and all that we learn. In the words of Christina Moore, Miss Brooklyn, - "I love that we refer to it as a class!") It was very exciting boarding the bus for the first time, especially because it had Claire and Alison's faces on the side of it - like we were all famous!

As much as we were star struck by the glamour of it all, we had no idea that we would be the celebrities when we arrived in Manhattan! It was a long drive from Staten Island to Manhattan, but I don't think that anyone noticed because we were all so elated to be there. It seems that we all became great friends almost immediately - talking about anything and everything like we'd known each other for years. I love that. This was only my second time in the city, and the first time I was with my mom and we covered as much ground as we could in a weekend, but one sight that I had yet to see was Ground Zero. One of the first photographs I took that week was of Ground Zero.

Our first stop was City Hall where we would meet Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We took several photos outside the building, on the steps, and then filed inside - a beautiful facility by the way.

Mayor Bloomberg welcomed us to the city, and took several pictures with us - what a trooper!

Upstate girls with the Mayor!

The press coverage was unreal as we met with the Mayor, and even when we left. Little did we know, the flashing cameras were something to get used to. As we left the City Hall gates, tourists were stopping and taking photos, left and right. I learned very quickly to always smile, and keep my lips on (meaning, always have lipstick, liner, and gloss!). Looking back, it probably was quite a sight to see 23 girls being herded around Manhattan, wearing crowns and sashes.

We headed to the Staten Island Ferry, where we snapped more photos with "fans" and met up with our Mr. NY contestants! (More on that in a minute!) I will share an interesting (short) story about a woman we met while waiting for the ferry. I couldn't tell you her name, because she was soft spoken and only gave us her pen name that was very unique. A poet, our new friend was a character who seemed to carry many of her possessions with her, interviewed us, asking for a "word", and took our photo, telling us she would be writing poems about us. So, for those of you in the NYC area, look for poetry including words like, "river", "believe", and maybe mentioning us girls in crowns and sashes!

A first for me, the Staten Island Ferry ride was wonderful! We got to stand on the very back of the ferry, which I thought was the best spot to be!

After getting off the ferry we walked to the "Postcards" 9/11 Memorial. An amazing sight, this memorial is in memory of Staten Islanders who perished on 9/11. What is so unique about this memorial is that it features the actual profiles of these heroes, as approved by their families.

Wow, it's a good thing we were so busy and having fun, because as I am writing about everything we did, I am realizing how long that day was! And there's still more! Don't worry, we didn't do this much EVERY day! :-)

Our next stop was at Burrough Hall, where we were excitedly greeted by the Burrough President, James P. Molinaro, who was so happy to have us on Staten Island and made sure that we had a wonderful week!

The last event on our to-do list for Monday was the Mr. New York pageant fundraiser! After a quick stop at the hotel for outfit changes and make up and hair touch ups, we walked to the Hilton Garden Inn Lorenzo's Bar and Cabaret where the pageant would be held.

With Mr. Thousand Islands, Hunt Ethridge, before the show!

Our table - with Kasey Waters, Greater Gotham, Kieren Sheridan, Fulton County, Tara Szczepanski, Metropolitan, and Allison Carlos, Forest Queen!

And the winner is, Mr. Rochester, Scott Larsen! Way to represent Upstate NY, Rochester!

That night, I think we ALL passed out as soon as we got to our rooms, because Tuesday was another early morning!

Tuesday, June 14 - Flag Day (World of Chocolate Factory Tour, Flag Day Ceremony @ The Boardwalk, Eger Harbor House, Staten Island Zoo, and Project Hospitality Soup Kitchen)

Want a way to excite 22 pageant girls during pageant week? Take them to a chocolate factory, and see who breaks down first! That was probably me! Actually, a surprising fact for many of you may be that, we like to eat, especially chocolate!

After treating ourselves to chocolate, we headed to the boardwalk for a Flag Day ceremony featuring a local middle school band (talk about talent!), an elementary school chorus (CUTIES!), speeches by our very own Claire Buffie and Miss New York 2009, Alyse Zwick, and of course, many honorable veterans. Although it started to rain, and gusts of wind were ruffling our dresses, the ceremony was moving and I was so glad to be a part of it.

Not the best look on my face, but hey, look at Colleen with her scarf on her head!

Next stop was at the Eger Harbor House, which is an assisted living facility for senior citizens. To be perfectly honest, I had no idea what this visit would entail and wasn't expecting the excitement I found awaiting me! You could feel the happiness and excitement just pouring from the hearts of the residents as soon as we walked in. We were treated to a lovely lunch, and then had the chance to mingle. Among many wonderful residents was my friend Antoinette.

I'll admit I was a bit shy when we first arrived, and was unsure of how to approach the residents like the other girls were. I haven't spent much time in nursing homes, and didn't know what to say. Instead of standing in a corner, I pushed myself to sit with someone. Antoinette happened to be that someone! She didn't really need me to say anything at all, because she got the conversation going just like that! I gave her my autograph, and then we shared the song packet when we all sang together!

We even started a kick line for "Give My Regards to Broadway!"

Thank you to Gloria, one of the residents, who handmade these bracelets for all of us! It took her 3 DAYS!

This resident celebrated her birthday with us!

Even though it was sad to leave my new friend, and all of the residents at Eger Harbor House, it was time to spend time with the children and families from Project Hospitality! We were off to the Staten Island Zoo to meet up with a group of families from Project Hospitality, a not-for-profit organization located on Staten Island that provides services for individuals dealing with homelessness and disease, including substance use.

It wasn't long before I had a new friend at my side. Lucero, whose name means shooting star, paired up with me to visit the animals!

Among my favorite exhibits at the S.I. Zoo were the emus, the roaming peacocks, the fish, but definitely NOT the snakes! Those were Lucero's favorite! Yikes!

Oh, and how could I forget the very hungry goats! These guys wouldn't stay still long enough for a high quality picture, but we did get to feed them!

Feed me!!!

We wandered the zoo for a while and then headed to the Soup Kitchen to learn more about Project Hospitality, and of course, eat! We were treated to pizza and salad - YUM! It was an amazing experience to hear stories of the families who are helped by Project Hospitality, and we all promised them that we would do anything we could, as titleholders, to help them!

It was time for our first rehearsal, and while we were excited, it had been a long day! Off to the theatre we went, where we started rehearsal with a group ab workout, and then learning choreography! I'm not a dancer by any means, but I worked really hard to learn all of the moves, knowing that I would have to do it in front of hundreds of people on Friday night.

Charlotte, Desiree, and I working it!

It was a LONG day, but full of so many phenomenal experiences that I will cherish forever. It was back to the hotel, and to bed, but not before a quick rehearsal in the hallway with the fantastic Brooklyn Christina Moore!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - Rehearsal, Children's Museum, Botanical Gardens, Rehearsal

Wednesday started bright and early, again, at the theatre for rehearsal! Before I left for the week, my mom had said that it seemed like I was getting ready for "Ultimate Beauty Summer Camp", I think we should rename it to "Ultimate Beauty Boot Camp"! Even though I had fun throughout the rehearsals, let me tell you - it is HARD WORK. From dancing to modeling, all in heels, by the end of the day, I was exhausted!

The Staten Island Children's Museum provides interactive exhibits for children, and come to find out, beauty queens! Haha! We toured the museum, stopping to take pictures in the mermaid grotto, and rainforest, before having lunch in the museum cafe, run by learning disabled teens and adults.

Christina & I in our "grotto"...inspired by Kaitlin Monte, Miss New York 2011!

We headed outside to tour the rest of Snug Harbor, visiting a 9/11 Memorial, and the only Chinese Botanical Gardens outside of China!

Our last stop before heading back to rehearsal was at Edith Susskind's Gift Shop, also located at Snug Harbor. On top of owning her own business, Edith has been highly involved with the Miss Staten Island Organization for years! She even served on the judge's panel for Mr. New York!

It was back to rehearsal for the next two days up until the pageant, but I'll have to post about that later since I've already written a novel! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's finally here!

Well, it is finally here! I cannot believe that in just 8 hours - yes I said *8* - I will be leaving for the airport to get on a plane that will take me to Staten Island for Miss New York!!! As you can probably imagine, I am pretty busy in these final moments - packing (yes, still), finishing homework (yikes!), and preparing emotionally by trying to relax! I am so excited for the week, and know that no matter what, I will leave next Sunday with a million lasting memories, and having had the experience of a lifetime. My mom keeps calling it "Ultimate Beauty Camp" because with the several store runs and late night packing, it really seems like I am packing for summer camp, except that instead of staying in a cabin, we are in the Hampton Inn, and instead of bug spray, we have butt glue! Wait...bug spray....will I need that???

I can't stay for long tonight because I have lots to do before I leave, but before I go, I need to ask for your help!!!

We were just informed that there will be a Top 11, not 10, but 11 at Miss New York! The 11th place will be filled by the contestant who receives the most votes for favorite contestant - it costs just one dollar to vote, and you can follow the link below to make me Miss New York People's Choice Finalist!

It looks like this ^^^

Thank you all so much for your ongoing support - it means the world to me! I will try to keep you all updated as much as I can, but for the time being, I appreciate your love, support, thoughts, and prayers!



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Show, A Party, and Much More!

Ahhh, I admit it, I have been an awful blogger in the past few weeks, and I'll spare you my poor excuses, because as Shelbs says, "no excuse is a good excuse"...or something like that! Anyway, I promise I'll make up for my lack of web presence with a fabulous post today!

Where to start? Let's see, two weekends ago...May 27...I was preparing for my big event - The Variety Show for Miracles! After months of planning and coordinating, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals fundraiser was finally here! I have to say that, while I was very excited about the performance that combined my own platform and the national platform of Miss America, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, I was a bit nervous as the variety show had ended up falling on the start of the big holiday weekend, and I worried about the turn out! I had full confidence in my diverse and talented group of performers, and the last thing I wanted for them was an empty gym-a-torium. I certainly surprised myself! Thirty minutes before the show began, we were standing room only! I couldn't believe it, but I was absolutely ecstatic.

Before I stepped into the role of emcee, I began the show by showing my love for music through a vocal performance of "Memory", from Cats. For the next hour and a half, I welcomed fourteen amazingly talented individuals to the stage to share their passion of performing, and dedication to community service. Special thanks to all of the performers: Madison Draper, Bethanne Vandertang, Darryl Manwaring, Angela Galasso, Tommy Barber, Lacey Robinson, Rochelle Richardson, Cody Wilson, Skyler Bocciolatt, Brianna Lockwood, Michele Bariteau, Beth Wagenaar, Izzy Marsala, and Rachel Gardner. Among our performers, our special guest of the night, Madison Draper, is a Miracle Teen, who has endured hardship but thrived, and has directly been helped by Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. Madi performed three times in the Variety Show with three of her friends from her mother's studio, Rhonda's Footeworks. I so appreciate their support! Rhonda was there to speak on the importance of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and expressed her gratitude for the support of everyone at the event. Thanks, Rhonda! And the love kept on coming! I also had the support of my Outstanding Teen, Kaili Schindler, who spoke to the audience between acts about her experience as Miss Thousand Islands Outstanding Teen 2011. Kristina Blackstock, Miss Ireland 2010, and Briana Sharlow, Irish Princess 2010, also joined me on stage to talk about their pageant system! Last, I have to thank Angela Galasso one more time, for her ongoing support! Angela is a pageant sister who I have been competing with for my entire pageant career. I surprised Angela by asking her to come on stage to talk to me about her experience at Miss New York, and asked for advice. Thanks for being a great impromptu speaker, Angela! :-)

I also need to recognize the Lyme Central School chapter of Future Business LEaders of America, especially their advisor Beth Wagenaar, and the chapter president, Lauren Wagenaar for helping to organize this event. Because I was in school in Ithaca during most of the planning, I relied heavily on Lauren and the FBLA to help with things like hanging posters and promoting the show. Lauren also helped me to find student volunteers who helped on the day of the event to set up! Also, a special thanks to Lyme Central School!

After 18 acts of fantastic talent, and many laughter, and some tears, the Variety Show for Miracles had ended. What an amazing feeling! Together, with the help of so many people, we raised $365.00 to be donated to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals!

With Madi, Izzy, Brianna, and Bethanne from Rhonda's Footeworks!

With the success of the Variety Show behind me, I spent last week running errands and working out! By Saturday, I felt like I had moved into Lillian's Alterations...or at least my pageant wardrobe had! From shortening my talent gown, to fixing the slit in my evening gown, and fashioning a sarong for swimwear, Lillian is simply amazing! With experience in the Miss New York system, Lillian knows exactly how to "make me look beautiful" with the clothes I wear. A huge thanks to her for everything! Anyway, I started another busy weekend with my last breakfast mock interview of the year at the Clubhouse on Saturday morning with Shelby, Sue, Carol, and Kaili. I have to say, even if it means getting up a few hours early, mock interviews are so incredibly helpful in my preparation for Miss New York. I feel so much more prepared going into ANY interview after practicing and hearing feedback from my interviewers. This Wednesday I will have my final mock the interview dress...complete with scoring!

On Sunday, June 5, my send-off party was held at the Copley House in Chaumont, my hometown. I can't believe that this event has already come and gone. It seems that just yesterday I received an invitation to Kristina's (Miss TI '10) send-off party, and already I am preparing to travel to the "big city" for Miss New York 2011. AHHH! I can't even believe it!

Before the party, I received this message from our current Miss New York, Claire Buffie... "Have a wonderful send off today!! Soak it all in an bottle up all of that love and support for the week!" Claire, I really wish that I could've taken all of the well wishes and love and support and stuffed it all in a bottle to bring with me to the pageant! Seriously, I couldn't believe all of the love! I modeled my evening gown, interview outfit, and performed my talent, in "costume", and shared many conversations with friends and family. We took pictures, and I even received a special gift from Shelby, Sue, and Gary - a Miss America bag my "State Bag") filled with all sorts of goodies that I can't wait to eat...use. :-)

I have to give a huge thank you to my family and friends and of course, my boyfriend, Tony, for being at this event, showing your support, and for always being there for me! I love you all. I especially need to thank my mom, who not only made this event possible, but made it so beautiful! She spent hours in the kitchen baking treats (not for me ;-P), and then before I was even awake on the day of the party, had hand picked bouquets, and decorated the Copley House to prepare it for the party. Thanks, Mom. :-)

Now, it's on to major pageant prep! I have less than a week until I depart for Staten Island for Miss New York 2011 State Week, and I couldn't be happier! I know that I am ready, and I am confident that the week itself is going to be an amazing life experience. I will update later about this last week at home! :-)

Thanks for listening. That's all for now! :-)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Cars, Caps, and Catch Up!

Hello everyone! I apologize for the delayed post, but I hope that I can make up for my prolonged blogging absence with an interesting blog post today. It's been a busy weekend, so I have a lot to talk about! Plus, the Miss New York pageant is quickly approaching, and that means things are getting really exciting for me!

We started out the weekend bright and early on Saturday morning for the Armed Forces Parade in Watertown. It was this event that marked the first appearance by our new Star Princesses, Joelle Leek and Sarah Roux. Joelle and Sarah will travel to Staten Island for the Miss New York pageant, where they will officially be crowned. They will have the opportunity to work with our choreographer and meet several other young girls participating in the new Star Princess mentoring program, and even go on stage at the pageant! The Star Princess program is not a pageant, and aims to prepare young girls, ages 5 - 12, for the Miss America pageant system through mentorship.

And here they are! Sarah on the left, Joelle on the right!

Saturday, May 21, brought large crowds and excitement to Clayton, NY. And no, the people of the Thousand Islands did not gather to prepare for the Rapture, but rather to celebrate classic cars. Now, I don't know much about classic cars, or cars in general for that matter, but it was hard not to appreciate the sleek beauty, and fabulous colors, of all of the cars that came to the Highway Legends Classic Car Show. It was my honor to, along with Kaili, and one of my princesses, Joelle, choose the car that would receive the Miss Thousand Islands Award. Kaili happens to be the guru of classic, and non-classic, cars. While I scoped the lot for a car that would best represent our organization using the criteria of unique and beautiful colors, Kaili could hardly choose because she was so enamored by all of them. She even got to "test drive" a few for a photo op. In the end, we all agreed on a turquoise one, that I cannot remember the make and model of right now. I have to say, although the winner was cool, I have to say that my favorite was a bright purple and clean white car that reminded me of something from a 60s movie.

Throughout the day, I signed several autographs for some of the cutest little kids, and even took some pictures! I met the sweetest elderly lady who was dressed up in a poodle skirt that she had sewn just for this occasion! Many of the car show goers were dressed to reflect the era of the car that they had brought. In fact, it was my pleasure to host and judge a fashion show held later in the day! Along with Kaili, Shelby, and Sue, I enjoyed a small showcase of people who had worked hard to create a costume, complete with hair and accessories, that reflected their car's era. In the end, we awarded each contestant with a first place prize because everyone was so creative. According to one of the event coordinators, fashion shows at larger car shows are becoming very popular, and their chapter of Highway Legends hopes that while their car show grows, so will the fashion show!

Shelby & I taking a break from tabling!

Almost as soon as the fashion show had ended, I hurried out of the arena and drove home to meet my family and Tony to leave for Ithaca. After three years at Ithaca College, I turned my tassle yesterday morning at the Ithaca College Class of 2011 commencement. It was an exciting milestone in my life, and I am glad that I took the time to be there. It was just November when I found out that by taking a few online classes this summer, that I could graduate an entire year early. While it was bittersweet to leave my friends, the decision was the right one for me.

With 1600 students in the graduating class, it took an hour to process across campus and into the football stadium. When we finally were seated, we were so lucky to enjoy addresses not only by Tom Rochon, the college president, but also by Dorothy Cotton, a woman who traveled the world with Martin Luther King, Jr. and David Muir, Ithaca College '95. You may also recognize David Muir from the ABC World News! His address was so interesting and inspiring. His message was to use our voices, and through personal stories from world events in Cairo, Japan, Haiti, and New Orleans, he communicated this message very clearly. At the end of his speech, he recorded us on his phone and showed the clip on the news last night! If you visit you can hear his speech, and see our class! You can see me up close at 18:07! Following the ceremony, I introduced my family and Tony to two of my favorite professors, met up with my boss, and then celebrated in my apartment with a delicious spread of food, and packing! Pictures to come!

Now that I am done with college, aside from the online classes I still have to take, my focus is completely on preparing for Miss New York. In the past few weeks I have been spending extra time working out, practicing my talent, and securing my entire wardrobe for the pageant. With less than a month until my departure for state week, I am excited, overwhelmed, and busy! I am really looking forward to the entire experience, and can't wait to tell you all about it!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, amigos! Tonight, my roommates and I are celebrating the Mexican holiday with some homemade Thai cuisine...authentic, right? :-) So, anyway, I apologize for my prolonged absence and lack of posts lately - my schedule has just been crazy! Crazy, but exciting, I should add.

April just flew by, and I cannot believe that I am now only three weeks away from graduation! During the month of many showers - especially in Ithaca - I traveled to Staten Island for the Miss New York State workshop, enjoyed a giant hot dog (see previous post), burned off the hot dog and officially chose my evening gown and talent dress for the state pageant, and spent a weekend at home with my family and friends for Easter. Okay, so I know that I have already told you all about my trip to S.I. and the "giant wiener" as Shelby likes to call the infamous Fuddrucker's hot dog, but it was one of the best hot dogs, and experiences at the workshop, so I had to mention it again! For details, check out previous posts! Now, I can't tell you exactly what my dresses will look like, but I will say that A Touch of Grace and Kathy Lettiere in Watertown, NY, is THE PLACE TO GO! I've not once had a bad experience, and Kathy is wonderful! She has been so gracious and helpful through this entire process, and let me tell you, it has most definitely been a process! The gowns are beautiful, but furthermore, the service, care, and LOVE that you feel once you walk through Kathy's doors is amazing, and I always look forward to going there, even just for a visit with her! Plus, I just love trying on any and ALL dresses that my mom, Kathy, Shelby, and Sue throw at me! :-) Now that I have my dresses all set, I will really miss trips to A Touch of Grace. So Kathy, I know you this already, and if you are reading, if you ever need someone to play dress up, let me know!

Even though May is just beginning, I can tell you that it is a busy month now, and it is going to be busy right up until Miss New York in June! Good busy, as my mom says....busy, but all good things! Well, except for all of these final papers and assignments! The good thing is that, once all of this work is done and out of the way, I will be on my way to graduation...and best of all....SUMMER! So, here's what in the works for the next few weeks....

May 20 & 21 - Highway Legends Classic Car Show for Children's Miracle Network in Clayton, NY!
May 22 - Graduation from Ithaca College!
May 27 - The Variety Show for Miracles! (See more below)
June 5 - Morgan & Kaili's Send - Off Party! (more info to come soon)
June 13 - Leaving for Miss New York week!!!!!!!!!

....can you tell I am really excited...I am really exclamation point happy this post....

Now, you are probably all so excited and wondering, "what is The Variety Show for Miracles?" Well, I'll tell you!

"Miss Thousand Islands 2011, Morgan O'Brien Bocciolatt, will be holding The Variety Show for Miracles at Lyme Central School at 7pm on May 27, 2011. All proceeds will be donated to the Children's Miracle Network! Seeking performers of all ages to participate in the variety show. $5 for individual performer, $15 for performing group. E-mail Morgan at for more information and to sign up! General admission will be $5, and $2 for students/children. The Variety Show for Miracles is for a great cause, and is an exciting event that will showcase talent from all around the Thousand Islands! Help support your Miss Thousand Islands 2011 in her journey to become Miss New York 2011 by becoming a part of this amazing event as a performer or audience member!"

If you are interested in attending or performing and have questions or would like to sign up, please contact me!

Also, if you or someone you know is interested in competing in Miss Thousand Islands 2012, you can contact my faulous Executive Director, Sue Pilon at (315) 782-3992 or visit our website: We are still accepting applications and always seeking contestants who are new to the system, and always welcome our veteran sisters as well!

I've gotta get back to work and chow on some Thai, so that's all for now, but before I go, I want to thank you ALL for your ongoing support and love. So much love to you all!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011



If you are interested in purchasing advertising space, please see below for details on pricing, layout design, and other requirements. Payments should be made to me, and I will make one payment at time of submission. I will design advertisements using photos chosen or provided, message, and other information regarding business (if a business ad). To see an example of the program, and what the ads should look like, please visit: (ads begin on page 26). If you would like, we can arrange to meet and I will bring a program for you to look at.

Full Page - $250.00
Half Page - $125.00
Quarter Page - $62.50

Each advertisement must include a message of support, a photo of me (can be alone – one of my professional headshots – or with individual/business placing advertisement). Materials can be sent via e-mail to If a digital copy is not available, I can arrange for pick up, or materials can be sent via mail to:

Morgan Bocciolatt
27431 Three Mile Point Road
Chaumont, NY 13622

Your support of the Miss New York Organization scholarship fund, and myself is so appreciated! THANK YOU!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

There's a place for us...

And it's in Staten Island!

On Friday, I met Shelby, Sue, Gary, and Kaili-girl in Endicott at Shelby's house where we began our journey to Staten Island for the Miss New York State workshop. After an hour or two of highway driving, we made a pit stop in Scranton at the most uniquely themed restaurant I have ever been to - Quaker Steak & Lube, a gas station/car themed restaurant/buffet. Pictures to come! After lunch, we, of course, stopped at an outlet mall where I found my interview dress and AWESOME floral Coach sneakers...ON SALE! Our shopping was a success! We ventured on to Staten Island through New Jersey traffic and finally arrived to the hotel at 6:30.

Ordering in "real pizza", as Kaili called it, was not only delicious but so relaxing! So delicious, that we were dangerously full by the time we were done. Shelby, Kaili, and I decided a Zumba party in the hotel was necessary, so in our studio room with extra floor space, and my wicked instructor skills, we worked it out hard! After a pit stop in the hotel store, and photo op with pageant sister Kieren Sheridan, we were in bed for girl talk by 10, and asleep before 11 (Kaili passed out mid-conversation!).

Saturday started bright and early with alarms sounding at 6am. Even with and hour to get ready, I was rushing to finish my hair and make up before breakfast with some of the girls at the hotel before the big day. Finally, it was time to head to the theatre for a long but exciting day of pageant prep!

Once we arrived at the theatre, there was NO stopping! Paperwork, talent run-throughs, photos, lunch, meetings & talks, rehearsal, and modeling! I was energetic the whole day, but the minute I sat down in the car, I just about passed out! The day was so exhilarting from learning about state week to dancing, and especially, meeting and catching up with my pageant sisters! What an amazing experience! It was absolutely wonderful, and I enjoyed it very much, even if I was exhausted on the way home, or at least until dinner...

"Morgan's Wiener" - Fuddrucker's Big Dog

YUM! The giant hot dog dubbed "Morgan's Wiener" by Shelby, completely revitalized me for the remainder of the trip. Thanks Fuddruckers! Not THIS is a treat!

Even the drive home was a lot of fun - especially with our goofy jokes and overtired laughing! The weekend ended with a good night's rest in Shelby's guest room, and a delicious breakfast...and COFFEE!

I am SO excited for State Week in June! If you are interested in attending the Miss NY pageant, stay up to date by visiting! Also, please contact me if you would like to purchase ad space to support me in the Miss NY program book!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Break happenings!

So sorry for the delay in this post - I had written the entire thing, but failed to post it, earlier this week! It's been a very busy first week back, and I have to admit that I kind of wish break had lasted a little longer. However, with so many exciting events coming up, I suppose staying busy, working my way through heaping to-do piles, will help suppress the excitement and make the time go a little faster, while still enjoying the time in between! So, before I tell you all about my busy spring break, here are some upcoming events in my life that I am really looking forward to:

April 1 & 2: Lyme Central School's Musical Production of Grease - my little brother Sky is starring as Danny Zuko! After bribing him to help out in the chorus last summer in Cinderella, he is back on stage and pretty soon I can say, "told ya so!"

April 2: Crescent Yacht Club Junior Division Chili Cook-Off - to benefit the Junior Division Swim & Sail program where I work in the summer - come taste my "Staff Chili"!

April 3: Zumba for Baby Kate with Holly & Dani, and Morgan & Ashley! In my last post I asked that you all send prayers for Baby Kate who is currently in critical condition after a tragic incident. To help out this loving family, several Zumba instructors, including myself, will be hosting this benefit to raise funds and celebrate Kate's life! Everyone is invited to this 1st Birthday Zumba benefit for Kate - details here :

April 3: LA on Broadway at Lafargeville Central School - In high school, my mom and I performed in this community production for two years, and following my graduation I was unable to continue. However, I always try to make it back for the performances! La on Broadway is an annual fundraiser musical revue that changes up each year, so the songs are always a surprise!

April 9: MISS NEW YORK STATE WORKSHOP!!! I am SO looking forward to this. I am really eager to meet all of the girls, and learn more about the entire experience! Only 14 more days!

Just a little busy over the next few weeks...

Now to tell you all about my exciting spring break! Being home for a week was so great not only to catch up with friends and family, but also because I had more time to dedicate to representing the Thousand Islands at local events and speaking engagements.

In addition to the Miss Ireland pageant, mock interview session, and dress hunting that I already posted about, I spoke at two local schools and also helped out at an event hosted by Highway Legends. Highway Legends is a classic vehicle club that raises money for Children's Miracle Network and Wounded Warriors. When I was asked to attend this event, I couldn't say no!

My long weekend of appearances started out on Thursday when I visited a senior psychology class at Immaculate Heart Central to speak about my platform, community service, and bullying. Seniors can definitely prove difficult to speak to, especially in the morning, but I felt that out conversation was engaging and effective. Thanks to Mrs. Brady for inviting me to visit her classroom!

On Friday, I spent the whole day at my mom's school, LaFargeville Central. My morning started out with some observations for a research project I am working on this semester. After I got my homework out of the way, I visited a kindergarten and second grade class to read some of my favorite childhood stories, and talk about their character education theme, Forgiveness. I always really enjoy my time spent in the classroom! That afternoon I had been asked to speak at the character education assemblies on the same topic, Forgiveness. I must admit, it was challenging to come up with a way to express the importance of forgiveness in a way that children can relate to. Luckily, my mom was able to share a story about a time in my childhood when I had to learn the meaning of forgiveness which really helped me to focus my speeches. I spoke to groups of K - 3 and 4 - 6, and after finishing my speech each time, I was able to help hand out awards to students, and at the end, I was so honored to also be awarded with a medal and certificate presented to me by the Elementary Principal, Mrs. Anita James. I would like to thank all of the teacher, students, and especially Mrs. James, and Superintendent Whitney for welcoming me into their school and giving me the opportunity to speak on this important topic!

Lastly, on Saturday I attended the Highway Legends fundraiser dinner held at Bistro 108 in Watertown. The benefit raised funds for Children's Miracle Network and Wounded Warriors. After a lovely dinner of crab cakes, followed by I delicious mint-chocolate treat, I had the chance to thank the guests for their support, and then help draw raffle tickets! At one point, I think some people thought I might have rigged it after pulling my mom, dad, Sue, AND Gary consecutively! Thanks to the Highway Legends for inviting me to this event, and I look forward to helping out at their Thousand Islands Extravaganza May 20, 21, and 22, when I will have the opportunity to award a car the Miss Thousand Islands Award, and help with several other events! Keep your eye out for information on this event, and join Kaili & I for a great time!

That's all for now!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pray for Kate!

Friends and Family: I am writing this post to ask you all to pray for Baby Kate. Kate is a one-year old from the Town of Lyme in the Thousand Islands Region who has suffered injuries and is now in the hospital fighting to recover. As advocates of Children's Miracle Network, we as titleholders understand the importance of coming together, and rallying for children who are inflicted by sickness or injury. I ask that you all take the time today to say a prayer for Baby Kate and her family, and think positive thoughts for her! It is in times of strife that it is so important for communities to show love and support for one another. Thank you all!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

So many new sisters!

As I anxiously await the results of the Miss Greater Rochester pageant, I thought that I would tell you all about my exciting weekend, and congratulate some new pageant sisters, hopefully including Miss Greater Rochester 2011!

After a crazy and hectic midterm week, I drove home Friday afternoon, to start my spring break off by attending the Miss Ireland Pageant, an annual event that has become a tradition for my mom and I. This year was extra special because I was able to attend as Miss Thousand Islands! Of course, Sue, Gary, and Shelby joined my family and I for the scholarship pageant, my personal favorite event at the North Country Goes Green Irish Festival, held annually to raise funds for Project Children, as well as many other charitable organizations. We also were joined by Kristan and Kathy Letteire! As Miss Ireland is a festival pageant, the phases of competition are a little different than those of Miss American Organization pageants. The contestants are introduced in evening gown, they then express their Irish Heritage, which is done in various ways - music, storytelling, speeches, etc.. The girls are not judged on talent but on the way they express themselves. Last, they answer an on stage question. I began watching the Miss Ireland pageant after I started competing in pageants, and a friend of mine, Bridgette Sharlow, was competing in the Miss Ireland pageant, 3 years ago. That year, she was crowned and awarded a scholarship. Last year, she was able to crown one of her sisters as the new Miss Ireland, Brittany Sharlow. This year, the third sister in the line of Sharlow sisters decided to compete, and sure enough, was crowned Miss Irish Princess, and awarded a scholarship! Congratulations, Brianna Sharlow! And, to Miss Ireland 2011, Kristina Blackstock!

Irish Princess 2011, Brianna Sharlow, Miss Ireland 2011, Kristina Blackstock, and Brittany Sharlow, Miss Ireland 2010!

Brianna, Kristina, and I!

Kristan, Miss TI 2009, and I after the pageant!

Saturday morning, I was up bright and early for breakfast at the Clubhouse, and my first mock interview! Shelby, Sue, Corri, and Deltra Willis did a fantastic job compiling challenging and insightful questions and I so appreciate their help as I prepare for the Miss New York State pageant. I certainly learned a lot about myself, and am thankful for the advice these wonderful ladies provided me with. A few rounds of interview questions, and they had worn me out, so we moved on to A Touch of Grace to try on more gowns! If I could, I would just try on gowns all day long! Thanks to Kathy and her awesome staff for always being so accommodating to us!

And now, I can finally congratulate some new pageant sisters who I will be competing with this June! Here are the results from today's pageants:

Miss Greater Rochester 2011 - Chelsea Prophet
Miss Southeast New York 2011 - Amanda Mason
Miss Manhattan 2011 - Mallory Hagan
Miss New York City 2011 - Hannah Wright
Miss Greater Gotham 2011 - Nardeen Bilan
Miss Liberty 2011 - Kimberly Cantoni
Miss Metropolitan 2011 - Tara Szcezpanski

Also a huge congratulations to all of the contestants who competed in these pageants today, and to all of the runners-up! At Miss Greater Rochester, 2nd runner up is Heather Knowles, and 1st runner up is Lorna Rose! If anyone can fill me in on any other award winners or runners-up from the other pageants, please let me know so that I can update here! Congratulations ladies! And to the new titleholders, welcome to the Miss New York Class of 2011! Looking forward to seeing you all at workshop in April!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday

I have a million things I need to be doing right now, including working out, studying for tonight's test, writing a paper or two, and cleaning, but I just had an experience that I felt I simply must share. Today, as many of you know, is Ash Wednesday. For Christians around the world, today marks the beginning of Lent, and an opportunity to renew our relationship with God, and today, with ashes on our foreheads, we take this opportunity for grace and repentance. In the middle of midterm week, as I anxiously await spring break, I knew that it was important that I make it to Ash Wednesday Mass, not just because the church tells us to, but because it is important to take this time to step back from things like school and work to cherish our faith, what truly gets me through the stresses of college. So, I found an early mass, and went. As I went through the day, taking time off of work to complete schoolwork and studying, I had several mental lists going in my head, trying to figure out how I could fit everything I needed to into my busy day. Finally, as I finished classes, I walked to my car and as I backed out, I, of course, got stuck! For those of you reading in Ithaca and other parts of upstate and Northern New York, you can understand my frustration with the massive amounts of snow in parking lots! Anyway, as I was alone, I tried rocking my car back and forth to get out, and after several minutes of failure, a student who was walking by noticed my distress, and came to the front of my car and motioned for me to reverse as he pushed. We tried several times and when that did not work, he stuck around to see if we could kick some of the snow out from under the car (because we had no shovel). Soon after, another student walked over and tried to help. He then offered to get a shovel and ran all the way to his dorm to get a shovel. The first student finally left when I suggested calling a tow truck to pull my car out, and I continued to try on my own in hopes of a miracle. After a few more minutes, the second student came back with a shovel and immediately began shoveling my car out. A few minutes later, the first student returned, saying "I don't have anything better to do, and I feel really bad that you are still stuck here." So with a few more pushes, and some excellent shovelry (get it, like chivalry), my car was out! I couldn't thank them enough for helping me. And on top of their help, they were happy to do it! As I drove away, I watched these two strangers walk back to their dorms, and couldn't be more thankful. My faith tells me that these two young men were sent by God to help me.

Today, for some, is just another day. For me, I celebrated a Holy Day, but did not take much time to really think about it in that way until these two young men came along and truly showed me the meaning of almsgiving. I am so thankful for these two students, and wish that I had asked them for their names so that I could thank them again. I thought as I drove back home about how truly good people can be, and that "we are all but dust and will return to dust..."

I wasn't sure what I wanted to "give up" for Lent this year, and I don't think that I will give anything up, but I now have an idea about what I would like to DO and work on this Lenten season. I hope that everyone is able to gain something from this post, and for those of you celebrating Lent this season, I hope that you will all consider this while you do...

Thanks again to the people who helped me today!

Monday, March 7, 2011

What a busy, busy weekend!

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope that you all enjoyed this weekend as much as I did! It was on Friday that I traveled home for the first time in a month, and I was really looking forward to all that was planned. Friday evening, I met my family for dinner at my grandmother's house - Jean's Beans, yum! For those of you who don't know about Jean's Beans, I am so sorry - while it is definitely a "once-in-a-while" treat, it is quite popular among the residents of the Thousand Island's region, especially during Lent because its specialty is Fish Fry! My mom, who is just as busy as I am, thought that Lent had already begun and planned the Fish Fry dinner a littler early - nonetheless, it was great to spend time with family, and stuff ourselves with delicious Watertown treats! After dinner, I spent time with my boyfriend, Tony, and his sister and brother-in-law. It is always so nice to spend time with my friends and family when I get the chance to come home, even though it can be hard to fit everything in to just a few days!

The weekend really started to get busy as soon as I woke up, bright and early, on Saturday morning when my mom and I went to our friend Allison's Zumba class, at LaFargeville Central where they both work. Even though I'm not always happy to wake up early, it really is great to start the day with a work out! Saturday afternoon I met up with Jessica Renzi, Miss New York 2003, at her house in Watertown for a modeling lesson. Jess has been so supportive of me in my year as Miss Thousand Islands, and is always willing to help! I so appreciate her and her valuable insight. We worked on "the walk" and of course, afterwards, we had a little pageant talk! Thanks for everything, Jess!

Sunday was the 4th Annual Teens for Miracles Fashion Show held by A Touch of Grace to raise money for our local Children's Miracle Network Hospital at Samaritan Medical Center. I was so honored to be the hostess of this amazing event, especially after having been a volunteer model for two years. The event is really fun for everyone - the models AND the audience. Those who watch the fashion show get to see all of the most popular prom styles of the season, and the models get to dress up and get their 5 minutes of fame, almost like a second prom! And there were male models, too! They borrowed tuxes from Nelson's Formal Wear and really did a great job! Ticia Marra's Stage Notes was there to provide entertainment, along with For Pete's Sake Entertainment and Production. It was so wonderful to see so many people come out to support the Children's Miracle Network, and I really had a blast! A huge thanks to Kathy & Kristan Letteire for inviting me to host the event and for all of their hard work in planning the event AND for the beautiful dress I wore, as well as all of the sponsors and other volunteers who were there to help out! To all my pageant sisters, I highly recommend A Touch of Grace for all of your pageant wardrobe needs!

With Madison Draper, one of our Miracle Children, who performed yesterday with Ticia Marra's Stage Notes!

With one of the models, Miracle Child Kaitlyn!

With friends & my brother! From left to right: Alex Weston (former soccer teammate), Tommy Barber (co-worker & neighbor), Skyler (my brother!), Olivia Speno (best friend!), Jake Speno (Liv's brother), and Lindsey Barber (neighbor)! It was great to see them all come out and donate their time to this cause!

With surrogate little brother, Zach Lanzar, and real little brother, Sky!

My dad and I! :-)

Mom & I! :-)

My pageant family, Gary and Sue, and I, minus Shelbs!

With my mom's best friend, Yasmin, and nanny Ruth!

Upcoming Events:

Friday, March 11 - North Country Goes Green Irish Festival and the Miss Ireland Pageant!
I am so excited to watch the Miss Ireland pageant this year! It has become tradition for my mom and I to go and watch the pageant at one of the North Country's most popular events, the Irish Fest! Last year, one of my good friends, Bridgette Sharlow (Miss Ireland 2009) was able to crown one of her sisters, Brittany Sharlow, as her successor. I'm looking forward to see who Brittany will pass her crown onto this year!

Sunday, March 13 - Irish Fest Parade!

Before I go, I also want to congratulate two new members of the Miss New York Class of 2011! Colleen Gagne was crowned Miss Empire Rose 2011, and Jennifer Pollard was crowned Miss Empire Star 2011 at the two-title pageant on Saturday! I am looking forward to meeting my new sisters! Congratulations, girls!

Also, I would like to wish all of the ladies competing in the upcoming pageants good luck! I wish that I could be there to root you all on in the coming weeks!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Miss Finger Lakes 2011 is...

Charlotte Boothe! Welcome to the family, Charlotte, and again, congratulations - you are in for a whirlwind of excitement!

And a huge congratulations to all of the other contestants, as well, including 4RU Vicky Rippel, 3RU Amanda Boyer, 2RU Margaret Feldman, and 1RU Chelsea Prophet! All of the contestants were so incredibly talented, and it was near impossible to predict who might take home the crown.

This weekend was really special for me because it was my first time watching a pageant! Of course, I have seen Miss America on television and watched festival pageants, but this was so much more exciting. In addition to seeing so many pageant sisters, I really enjoyed seeing the pageant from a completely different perspective. With diverse talents, beautiful evening gowns, an upbeat opening number, and so much more, it was truly a fun evening, and an insightful learning experience as well. A big thanks to Chris Keefer, Pilar Miller, and Jane Eikov, for allowing me to speak on my experience as Miss Thousand Islands!

The weekend as a whole was a lot of fun, a little exhausting, and I'm now looking forward to the Miss New York State workshop and pageant more than ever! Before the pageant, Shelby, Sue, Gary, Corri, and I all spent the day shopping. We had a delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant in Corning before the pageant, that made up for our less than mediocre lunch experience in food quality AND laughs, as I successfully spilled the delectable garlic butter clam sauce down my new dress. Luckily, I had an extra dress with me! When I said pageant prep takes organization, I meant it - and not just for contestants, because you never know what could happen! If anyone knows of any pageant poncho vendors, please let me know, because we've determined I'll be needing some type of coverage to protect my wardrobe! I think I need to add "mess prevention" to my list of pageant prep!

Like my mom said, at least I have a good story...

That's all for now! Oh, and remember to get your ticket for the Children's Miracle Network Fashion Show, sponsored by A Touch of Grace, which will take place this Sunday, March 6 @ 2pm at the Best Western Carriage House in Watertown, NY!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pageant Prep!

It's not the easiest thing to wake up on a Monday morning, look outside to see four inches of snow (after the spring-like weather that melted it down to green grass on Friday), and still have a positive outlook on your day, but I try to look at Mondays as a day to get back into the swing of the week. Lucky for me, my Mondays aren't too hectic, and I always have lots of time to catch up on schoolwork in hopes of making the rest of my week less busy. Plus, this week, my boyfriend is visiting! Now, I always look forward to the weekends, but try to keep my thoughts and daydreaming to a minimum because I like to enjoy each moment for what it is, and find joy in ordinary and daily activities. This weekend is especially exciting for me, as I will be attending the Miss Finger Lakes Pageant in Corning, NY, to support the contestants vying for the title of Miss Finger Lakes 2011, and the chance to compete in Miss New York State in June, and to support my pageant sister, Amy Valenti, as she ends her year as Miss Finger Lakes 2010.

Just one year ago, I was getting ready to compete in Miss Finger Lakes 2010, and looking forward to the pageant almost as much as I am this year. This year, I will get to attend the pageant as an audience member and titleholder, which is especially exciting for me because I have never actually watched a Miss America local pageant before. I am looking forward to the experience and hoping to learn from the other contestants. I know I love competing, so I am hoping my experience watching a pageant is just as thrilling! I want to wish all of the contestants good luck in their final week of preparation for this pageant, and offer some insight:

In the words of Mary Johanson, a titleholder in a corny pageant flick of mine, Drop Dead Gorgeous, "With one week to go before the pageant, I was finishing my outfit, rehearsing my talent, brushing up on current events, and running 18 miles a day on about 400 calories. I was ready."

Now, obviously this is a joke, but I do love watching this movie as it gets closer to any pageant I am competing in. It's cheesy, strange, and oddly funny, and we all know it's really nothing like the pageants we compete in, but what people reference every time we say, "I compete in pageants."

Unlike the unwell titleholder in this dark comedy, with a week before a pageant, I absolutely do not recommend running 18 miles a day on 400 calories. But I do have a few tips to offer, especially to the contestants in the Miss Finger Lakes pageant this weekend, as they enter their final week of prep for this pageant.

It's a lifestyle for those of us who compete regularly in pageants, but pageant prep seems to increase in intensity and importance in the week leading up to a pageant. Just one year ago, I was spending extra time at the gym, saying "no thanks" to treats, and reading up on my current events, but also trying to relax and find time in my busy schedule to just think about the pageant. This time is so important to reduce stress, set goals, and plan for a successful week. While it may seem stereotypical, I like to pamper myself in the week prior, not because I think slathering my face with green clay mask is really going to help me win, but because I know that it will relax me and help me to boost my confidence. It is confidence that is the key to winning a pageant. So, to the contestants of the Miss Finger Lakes, many of whom are pageant sisters, I want to wish you good luck in this week and at the pageant. I will be there to cheer each and every one of you on as you further your dreams.

I would also like to offer some advice, as a fellow competitor, based on my own experience, and current pageant prep for Miss New York.

1) Set goals. If not the crown, what is it that you hope to gain from this pageant? If you have set goals in mind, you are bound to be successful. There are no losers in pageants.

2) Relax. Find a yoga class, and go. Yoga has boosted my motivation, plus it is a really great workout in itself, in addition to reducing stress. Stress reduction is so important, not only this week, but always, because negative stress makes it difficult to be focused and successful.

3) Pamper. Whether it is a pedicure or at-home skin care remedies, find something that will add to stress-reduction and relaxation, as well as boosting confidence, in turn promoting overall success.

4) Organize. Getting ready for pageants certainly includes some tedious list making, quick shopping trips, and trying on all outfits, and maybe even practicing hair and make up. This is really good to do earlier, rather than later, so that any issues with clothing or otherwise can be taken care of, preventing stress. Plus, this can help to get you really excited for the pageant, and always helps me to feel more confidence.

5) Practice. Pageant practice is kind of like practice for any other hobby or sport. Continue work on your talent, interview, onstage-question, and walks/poses, and stick with your fitness plan. Read the news every day, practice speaking while you are driving or with friends and family, put on your heels and walk in front of the mirror, and record your talent and critique yourself or have others help you so you can improve to your fullest.

We all have our own ways of getting in the zone during pageant week, and I hope that some of these tips can help your pageant preparation, and that my learning experiences can be beneficial to you all. I am so looking forward to the Miss Finger Lakes pageant, and am excited to cheer each and every one of you on, and support Amy in her final moments as Miss Finger Lakes 2010. I offer this advice not only to the contestants of MFL, but to those in all upcoming local pageants. I hope to attend as many locals as possible, and look forward to meeting new friends, welcoming new titleholders to the Miss New York Class of 2011, and catching up with my pageant sisters. Good luck!

All my best,


Monday, February 14, 2011

The Power of Mighty Power Yoga

What a great way to start the week! Yesterday, Sunday, usually cleaning, catch up day, I went to my first ever yoga class. Not just a regular yoga class, but what is called power yoga, aka Mighty Yoga or Hot Yoga. I went with a roommate and friend, and was a little nervous not knowing what to expect, especially because I had only ever done yoga from a DVD. After 75 minutes being in a 100 degree room, I felt completely renewed! I am so ready to start my week, and enjoy every second of it! I can't wait to go back next weekend, but this time I will bring a bigger towel! I encourage everyone to try some type of yoga, especially this particular class if you are in the Ithaca area! Prepare to push yourself to the "edge" and sweat, a lot!

This 18 credit semester s certainly a busy one, so I don't have much time right now to post, but before I go, I'd like to wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day, especially my Valentine, Tony! I hope you all, regardless of relationship status, find a way to enjoy this day. Celebrate not only love and commitment, but health and happiness! I challenge everyone to do something good for their own heart today - I know I will be spending some quality time with the elyptical and treadmill today!

Monday, February 7, 2011

A new addition...

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate my pageant sister KIeren Sheridan, Miss Fulton County 2011! Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this local competition, but kept a close eye on Facebook Saturday night so that I would know who the winner was! So, again, a huge congrats to Kieren, her runners-up, and all of the talented women who competed in Miss Fulton County. I am so looking forward to seeing many of you at Miss Finger Lakes 2011!

Now, I have even MORE exciting news. I had posted in my last blog post that I will be hosting the Children's Miracle Network Fashion show on March 6th. Well, on Saturday I had plans to try on the gown that Kathy & Kristan Letteire at A Touch of Grace had chosen for me. What was supposed to be a quick trip, turned into a fabulous morning of gown shopping during which I found both my talent AND evening gowns for Miss NY!!! It happened that the dress Kathy & Kristan wanted me to wear to host the fashion show was so amazing, that I ended up getting it for states! Needless to say, I will be wearing a different dress at the fashion show!

I also suppose I should tell you all about my morning, mostly because it involves my crown. Because last night was the Super Bowl, I decided to drive back to Ithaca early this morning, despite my parent's warning that the drive might encounter some weather. Regardless, I decided I wanted to wake up this morning, and thankfully did not come across any snow or ice. However, just as I was rolling into Ithaca around 8:15 this morning, I was involved in a minor, two-car accident. I am so thankful that no one was hurt, besides my car, and that it wasn't worse. At the time, I was completely overwhelmed, mostly because my car was obviously damaged, and also because I needed to get to my first class in which I was responsible for conducting an interview. The man in the other car was so kind and considerate, as was the policeman who was on the scene. I have never been in an accident and really wasn't sure what to do. Anyway, once everything was taken care of, my car was towed and the police told me to take only what I needed from my car and to put it into his car. Because I was on my way back from home, my entire backseat was full of my bags, filled with clothes, make up, etc, but I decided that I needed my backpack and purse more. Then, at the last second, I realized my crown was in its box that had wedged itself from the impact. I quickly grabbed it and put it in the car. As I started thinking more clearly, I realized that I had some of my essentials in my car which is now at a shop, and I had taken my crown instead, I just had to laugh at the whole situation.

Thank God I am OK, and for the crown box that saved my crown!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Back to School, Back to School

Today is officially a week and a day into classes for the spring semester, and for me, my last semester of undergraduate and Ithaca College! While exciting, it is also bittersweet to know that this is my last semester of undergrad, and my last semester at Ithaca. The next fourteen weeks will be full of first lasts, and I am really looking forward to living this semester to the very fullest! And although it has only been a week, the schoolwork is already beginning to pile up. Because I elected to graduate a year early, I am taking a full load this semester - 18 credits - plus taking 12 credits this summer at Jefferson Community College. I will be graduating in August 2011, but fortunately, I will be able to walk at graduation in May. My decision to graduate early came a little late because, shockingly, schools don't like to broadcast the opportunity to save a year's worth of tuition, especially to students like me who came in with credits from high school. So, as you can imagine, these past few months have been spent realizing the changes ahead for me. I will be attending graduate school, moving out of my parent's house, and finding a "real job"! I'm a little anxious to do all of these things, but at the same time, I am really excited and looking forward to the opportunities that the real world will have for me.

Now, for some updates on Miss TI!

I've started a new workout plan (Thanks Shelby!), in addition to my previous workout. It is imperative that I maintain my fitness and health, plus, the plan helps me to stay on track with my schedule that includes classes, work, homework, and meals. I have found that by staying busy after classes end, I have been much more productive with schoolwork and other things that need to get done! Remember to mix up your workout, fuel your body with wholesome and healthy foods, and find time every day for the gym or a home workout!

Over winter break, I also met with Corri Dartnell, Miss Thousand Islands 2008, who is a music teacher, to work on my song for talent! I'm keeping this a surprise, but I'm really excited about it!

Upcoming Pageants & Events:

February 5 - Miss Fulton County 2011 (Gloversville High School)

I would like to wish all of the girls competing in this pageant good luck! Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend, but I will be thinking of my pageant sisters as they compete! I encourage you all to venture out and support these amazing young women on their journey to the crown! Also, I would like to congratulate Heather Shaffer, Miss Fulton County 2010, on a fabulous year of service!

February 26 - Miss Finger Lakes 2011 (Corning, NY)

I will be attending the Miss Finger Lakes 2011 pageant, and am SO excited! I realized that I have never actually watched a local pageant in the Miss America Organization. Plus, last year I competed in Finger Lakes and met some wonderful new pageant sisters who I hope will be competing! I would like to wish all of these ladies good luck as they prepare for this competition, and encourage you all to join me for this event! Last, but certainly not least, I would like to give a shout out to my pageant sister, Amy Valenti, Miss Finger Lakes 2010, and congratulate her on her amazing year of service. I was there to witness Amy's crowning, and have to say, it was one of the best I've seen!

March 6 - Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Fashion Show sponsored by A Touch of Grace (Watertown, NY)

This is another exciting event that I will be hosting!!! This fashion show holds a special place in my heart, not only because it will raise money for CMNH in a really fun way, but also because I have been a model in this fashion show twice. You can call Kathy or Kristan Lettiere (Miss Thousand Islands 2009) at A Touch of Grace at 315-788-6164 for more information on attending or being a model. The event will be held at the Carriage House at the Best Western in Watertown and begins at 1pm. Tickets are $10, and you can call the above number to purchase. The fashion show will feature this season's hottest prom looks, so come out and support a great cause and find your dream dress for prom!

March 11 - North Country Goes Green Irish Festival - Miss Ireland Pageant

The Miss Ireland pageant is another event that I have looked forward to year after year, and I am excited once again to attend this pageant and festival. Two years ago, one of my closest high school friends won the crown of Miss Ireland, and last year, she was lucky enough to be able to crown her younger sister as Miss Ireland 2010. Must be the luck of the Irish! The phases of competition in this pageant include evening gown, on stage question, and expression of Irish Heritage. Girls express their heritage in many different ways, including storytelling, poetry, music, dance, and comedy. In this phase, the contestants are not judged on their talent, but on how well they are able to express their Irish Heritage and its importance to them. If you happen to be in Watertown or a surrounding area, be sure to stop by the Irish Fest, a tradition in the North Country and Thousand Islands region, and the pageant!

Lastly, I would like to encourage you all to follow the link below and make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. In doing this, you will be helping me compete in Miss New York and reach my fundraising goal of $500 (required, $250).

In the works:

Keep your eyes open for news about my big CMNH fundraising event that will happen in mid-May!

Have a great week everyone!