The Fullerton College Theatre sparkled Saturday night as the eighth annual Miss Fullerton Scholarship Program went underway. Eleven contestants, eight of which were students or alumna of Cal State Fullerton, were in the center of a whirlwind of competition and grace at the pageant.
Gabby Marco, 18, was announced Miss Fullerton 2010. The former Miss Fullerton 2009, Hayley Toler, is also a member of the CSUF community.
â€œI was literally shocked,â€ said Marco. â€œI lost all feeling in my face at one point.â€
Marco, who has previous experience in pageantry as a young child, is a dance major and hopes to use the scholarship money to â€œget a better education and to further it, maybe double major.â€
Hosted by Laura Holliman, Miss Fullerton 2007 and Lexy Romano, Miss Fullerton 2008, the competition was inundated with the audienceâ€™s roar of approval, rivaling that of a professional sports game.
The pageant teaches the contestants about real competition as well as camaraderie, Sharon Hagan, 50, a pageant spectator from Whittier said.
The stage was decorated in a 1950s theme, â€œLetâ€™s Go to the Hop,â€ and displayed life-size cardboard cutouts of ’50s celebrities Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
One of the pageantâ€™s opening numbers was a choreographed performance by the 2010 Miss Fullerton Princesses to the song â€œGrease Lightening.â€ The Princesses also acted as escorts to the contestants during the pageantâ€™s evening wear category.
â€œItâ€™s really cute,â€ said Executive Director Kathi Hikawa. â€œThey steal the show.â€
Miss Fullerton 2009, Hayley Toler, and Miss Fullertonâ€™s Outstanding Teen 2009, Ryan Osborn, appeared in many of the shows performances as well. Miss California 2009, Kristy Cavinder, also appeared and held a special performance of ballet on point.
The competition was made up of four categories with specific judging criteria.
The first portion of the competition was a private interview with the judges taking 10 minutes and counting for 25 percent of the contestantsâ€™ total score.
On stage questions made up only 5 percent of the total score and were general areas of interest aimed to evaluate the contestants quick thinking abilities.
Short skirts and serious questions made up this category and some women looked shakier than others when put on the spot. While a few contestants shined, others fumbled under pressure with choked words and awkward exits.
The third category was lifestyle and fitness. Contestants sashayed down stage in a swimsuit of their choice and were evaluated on their overall first impression of physical fitness and confidence. This category made up 15 percent of the total score.
The Fullerton Theatre shook as the packed-in audience roared during the swimsuit competition and each contestant exuded poise as the crowd offered their approval.
Performing a talent counted for 35 percent. Each solo routine lasted 90 seconds.
Audience members rooted for their contestant by cheering and raising homemade signs that displayed names and messages to their chosen contestant. The performances varied from the monologue to the traditional ballet dance.
â€œI was kind of surprised just to see the hidden talent,â€ said Danny Rojas, pageant spectator. â€œIâ€™ve never been to a pageant before. I know one of the contestants and I didnâ€™t know she could do that.â€
The final category was a beauty pageant gem â€“ evening wear. Making up 20 percent of the final score, evening wear represented an outfit appropriate for a formal social event such as a pantsuit, cocktail dress or evening gown.
Though the categories are trademark to the beauty pageant industry, the Miss Fullerton competition is primarily a scholarship program, Hikawa said.
Local sponsors such as small businesses and private donors provide the scholarships to the winning contestants. The Miss Fullerton programâ€™s gratitude was apparent in their frequent pauses for recognition between categories.
Volunteer work is a major aspect of the program. Contestants are required to choose a platform to work for or with, such as Youth Against Violence or the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Community service is based on what the contestantâ€™s passion is, said Hikawa.
Winning is a wonderful feeling, but the Miss Fullerton program gives its contestants much more than a chance for scholarship money.
â€œIt teaches you skills such as public speaking and how to represent yourself well,â€ commented Miss City of Orange 2010 Rachel Berry, 22. â€œIt gives you a chance to improve on yourself.â€