Enthusiasm, excitement set stage for pageant events

June 30, 2002|by KATE COLEMAN

The 67th annual Miss Maryland Scholarship Pageant took place at The Maryland Theatre in Hagerstown for the 31st time Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Before the show and during intermission, the lobby was filled with a blend of colognes and the excited and hopeful faces of family members, friends and fans of the 26 young women vying for the title that will take one of them to Atlantic City in September for the Miss America pageant.

Each night the audience was dotted with the sparkling tiaras of several Miss Teen Someplace - fill in the blank with the name of a local pageant - younger girls who had won junior titles in local competitions.


Several of the contestants had their own personal cheering sections. People waved placards, and there were shouts of encouragement throughout competition.

There were several former Miss Marylands on the scene. Miss Maryland 1990 Kimberly Grimm Weimer, a first-grade teacher and mother of two, sang a soulful a capella rendition of "America, the Beautiful" to open each night's program.

Miss Maryland 2001 Kelly Glorioso sang "Stronger," a Britney Spears hit, as the 26 contestants danced and strutted dressed in a variety of colors and styles, spangles, sequins, feathers and fringe. Some showed tanned midriffs - one with a bejeweled bellybutton.

There were swimsuits and evening gowns of many styles and colors.

On Friday, Miss Western Maryland Nikki Gouker, who won that night's preliminary talent award and Miss Howard County Laura Kelley, who won the Newcomer Preliminary Talent award, wore nearly identical dark red gowns.

Miss America 1981 Susan Powell hosted the pageant.

"This is such a stunning place," she said of The Maryland Theatre. "Aren't you proud of it?"

Powell, host of television's "Home Matters" on the Discovery Channel, also poked some good-natured fun at Hagerstown, asking the audience members if they had 50 cents - exact change - to get their cars out of the parking lot.

There were two dogs onstage Friday evening.

Outgoing Miss Maryland Kelly Glorioso, whose platform is "Enabling the Disabled with Assistance Dogs," presented the Woman of Achievement award to Pat Clark for her dedication to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a national service dog organization. Peaches, a yellow Labrador retriever and "ambassador" in the program, accompanied Clark.

Vincenzo, a yellow Lab, guided Jeffrey Pledger, recipient of the 2001 Inspiration award, to the stage. Pledger, who lost his sight 18 years ago, is president and founder of, a global television network for people with disabilities.

Glorioso and Pledger have worked together to inform people about the power of assistance animals.

A late addition to the panel of judges was Patricia Weber Wolford of Hagerstown, executive director of The Maryland Theatre and author of "Etiquette: Self-confidence in the Making," a book to gently teach children ages 4 and older rules of etiquette.

One of the judges who had been scheduled didn't arrive. Wolford was eligible to judge under the Miss America organization's policy of involving members of the local community who have expertise in the arts and business as novice judges, said Ed Dorsey, vice president of the Miss Maryland Organization executive board.

Wolford accepted judging duties last Tuesday evening and was on hand for contestant interviews the next morning.

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