Crowns for Hope fights domestic violence

TULALIP — When in doubt, smile.

That was the motto of many of the youngsters who strutted their stuff on the runway during the first Crowns for Hope youth pageant and luncheon.

More than 30 children of all ages — including two boys — took part in the pageant on Saturday, July 31 at the Pacific Rim Ballroom and Supper Club in Tulalip.

Organizer Monica Berginc said that the event raised about $2,000 for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County.

Contestants paid either a $65 or $90 entrance fee for the pageant. Those who opted to pay the additional $25 would be judged in the “optional” categories, not just the individual age group categories.

All but $10 of each entry fee went toward the non-profit organization, which provides emergency shelter and services to victims of domestic abuse.

“I felt like there was great support for all the girls — everyone seemed to applaud and cheer the kids on,” Berginc said. “It was empowering for the girls to speak and overcome their fears. Hopefully they learned something about themselves.”

The pageant included two sections. During the first part participants sported casual wear and gave their own individualized introductions to a panel of judges which included Marysville Mayor Dennis Kendall, current Mrs. Washington Carla Richards and former Mrs. Washington Elizabeth Larsen.

When it came to be her time to speak into the microphone, 3-year-old Mikayla Anderson from Arlington walked up to the microphone and smiled, seemingly caught up in the moment.

“She just loves the pretty dresses,” said her mom, Shantel Anderson, after the event.

After the casual wear portion of the pageant, participants donned formal and party wear for the judges. Each contestant was also read one question aloud that they answered.

Arlington resident Destini Vidal, 5, didn’t hesitate when she was asked who her favorite Disney princess was.

“Sleeping Beauty because she sleeps a lot,” said Destini, whose response caused a collective chuckle among pageant attendees.

Once the second part of the competition concluded, pageant contestants took an hour-long break for lunch. During that time, Cheryl Johnson, domestic violence prevention education manager for the organization, gave a brief presentation.

“We know that we need to get out there and education our youth,” Johnson said. “This (pageant) is an opportunity for children to empower themselves by speaking.”

Once judging concluded, the girls were brought back on stage to receive their awards for their age categories.

A handful of local girls were among those who competed in the pageant, including Arlington resident Kelsey Bray, who was the overall winner in the Mini Miss division. She joined her cousin, Marysville resident Brittany Bray, as award recipients. Brittany Bray won the first runner-up in the Miss division for 17- to 20-year-olds.

A number of area girls also took home various “optional awards,” including best smile and best casual wear.

While participants took home trophies and ribbons, they were also required to bring items to donate for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County.

Berginc said that one of the two boys competing in the Prince division, Parker Dennison, brought approximately 300 items. Another girl, 6-year-old Ella Silver, brought more than 80 items.

“That’s what we’re doing this for,” Berginc said. “Sure, you win a crown and a sash, but that’s the impactful thing. That’s what really means the most.”

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