june 27 miss md

June 27, 1997

Miss Maryland

Miss College Park and Miss Lanham winners in opening night preliminaries


Staff Writer

Miss College Park Diana Soriano won the talent competition and Miss Lanham Brandy Reese received the swimsuit award Thursday night as the Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant preliminaries began at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown.

During the finale, the theater's automatic fire alarm went off, apparently triggered by a special effects machine used for a laser show. Immediately after the preliminary winners' names were announced, the approximately 800 people in the audience were instructed to leave the building.


Soriano, of Hyattsville, Md., received a $400 scholarship and a plaque for winning the preliminary talent award.

Soriano, 24, played "Diabolic Suggestions" on the piano. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and is the daughter of Asuncion and Cesar Soriano.

Reese, 22, a resident of Westminster, Md., wore an orange swimsuit. She received a $125 scholarship and a plaque for her win in the swimsuit competition. A graduate of Villa Julie College, she is the daughter of Sherry and James Reese.

Soriano and Reese are among 24 young women competing for the Miss Maryland title and the right to represent the state in the nationally televised Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., Sept. 13.

The new Miss Maryland will be crowned Saturday night by Miss Maryland 1996 Susan Alexander.

On Thursday night, half of the contestants participated in the talent competition, which counts for 40 percent of the score. The other half participated in swimsuit and evening gown competitions, which each make up 15 percent of the score.

Before the onstage competition Thursday night, each contestant had a personal interview with a panel of judges. The interview counts for 30 percent of the score.

Master of ceremonies was Joe Versage of NBC25.

The second round of preliminary competition begins tonight at 8 at The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St.

Tickets are $15 for tonight and $25 for Saturday night and are available by calling the theater box office at 301-790-2000 or 1-800-34-SHOWS.

Battalion Chief Kingsley Poole said the fire alarm was set off by fog created by a machine for the pageant.

Any time an alarm goes off, the building is automatically evacuated, he said.

Poole said the building had to remain empty while fire officials cleared the fake smoke put out by the machine.

"We had to ventilate it so the system could reset itself," he said.

This is the 26th year Hagerstown has hosted the pageant.

Guests included Miss Maryland 1991 Debra Fries Baker, Miss Maryland 1992 Tammy Wyatt Roberts and Miss Maryland 1994 Karissa Brooke Jones.

During the final night of competition Saturday, the evening will begin with the announcement of the top 10 semifinalists. The field will be narrowed to the top five finalists, who will participate in an onstage interview. From there, Miss Maryland will be selected.

Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant awards for 1997 will total $30,000 in cash scholarships and $1,805,650 in in-kind scholarship opportunities.

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