Tales From A Pathway To Stardom

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By Patrick Cronin

Hampton Union, Friday, July 29, 2005

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online]

At the Miss Hampton Beach pageant in 2004, contestants receive roses before a winner is chosen. [File photo]

HAMPTON - A former state representative, two movie stars, two girls who competed in Miss America and a sports writer all have one thing in common.

They have either competed in or have or won the Miss Hampton Beach contest.

On Sunday, a new crop of young women will don gowns and walk to the Seashell stage to vie for the title and crown.

"These girls are not just beauty queens," said pageant organizer and Miss Hampton Beach 1995 Stephanie Lussier. "These girls have drive, ambition and they’re here to win."

Although the young women are still judged in evening gown, interview and conservative bathing suit, Lussier said past accomplishments of former winners show that contestants have more than just their looks going for them.

Beverly Hollingworth, second runner-up in 1952 later served in the N.H. House of Representatives for five terms and then as state senator.

Miss Hampton Beach 1993, Julene Britt, is a sports writer in Maine.

Sheila Ann Scott, Miss Hampton Beach 1964, became the first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant.

Another Miss Hampton Beach winner, Jan Angela Fiorentini, who got the crown in 1971, went on to the fourth-place position in the Miss USA Pageant.

Some of the young women have even moved on to Hollywood, said Lussier.

Miss Hampton Beach 1958, Carolyn Ann Komant, went on to perform for a full season on the show "77 Sunset Strip" in 1961 and signed a deal with Warner Brothers Studios.

She appeared in the 1962 movie "House of Women" and guest-starred on the TV show "Maverick."

Sabrina Louise Dennison, Miss Hampton Beach 1989-90 toured the United States and Europe as part of the National Theatre for the Deaf, as well as appeared in the movie "Santa Sangre" in 1989.

Kristina Michele Hughes, who competed in the Miss Hampton Beach 1994, has appeared in the film "Old School" as the naked woman and guest starred on "NYPD Blue."

"I can’t even turn on the television anymore without seeing her face," said Lussier. "I saw her the other day on a Dove commercial."

Hughes was also a photo double for Andie McDowell ("Loreal"), Sandra Bullock ("Miss Congeniality").

The tradition of the pageant dates back to 1947 but its roots date back to the 1920s, when the title of Carnival Queen was handed out.

Those queens, from 1914 to 1946, won the title not for their "face, form and personality" as it’s judged now but for selling the most tickets to a raffle.

Each one of the young women in this year’s competition knows what’s at stake and the prestige that goes along with the title, said Lussier.

Six of them have been there before.

Two of the girls’ mothers competed in the pageant and another girl’s grandmother was a contestant.

The contest winner gets $500 and must wear her crown at two of the beach’s four major annual events: the Children’s Festival, the Seafood Festival, the Christmas Parade or the Fourth of July.

Current title-holder Melissa Theriault of Manchester will be there to pass off her crown while Miss Hampton Beach 2003 Theresa Black will host the competition.

Lussier said the great thing about this contest is that it not only builds the confidence of the girls who participate in it but everyone at the beach looks forward to the annual event.

She took the reins of organizing the event in 1996, after the Chamber of Commerce said it was too expensive and time-consuming to continue it.

"It’s a tradition," said Lussier.

Who will be Miss Hampton Beach 2005?

* Shauna Pearson, 19, Salisbury, Mass., sponsored by Northern Service Co.

* Michelle DiNardo, 16, Danvers, Mass., sponsored by Tastee Tower Pizza.

* Elizabeth Curette, 15, Hampstead, sponsored by Col. and Mrs. E.R Calloway.

* Rebecca Hodges, 17, Hamilton, Mass., sponsored by D. Cote Construction.

* Alexandra Harrington, 17, Saugus, Mass., sponsored by Whale’s Tale restaurant and Rosie’s Ice Cream and Grill.

* Jessica DeBonville, 19, Groton, Mass., sponsored by Bernard DeBonville.

* Christiann Unger, 17, Danville, sponsored by N.H. Boring.

* Kimberly Gatti, 16, Plaistow, sponsored by Friends and Family.

* Allison LaCroix, 19, Leicester, Mass., sponsored by family.

* Maria Maschello, 16, Watertown, Conn., sponsored by Carpin MFG Inc.

* Justine Drabicki, 21, Newton, Mass., sponsored by La Bec Rouge Restaurant.

* Brittany Moitoza, 17, Taunton, Mass., sponsored by family.

* Elisa Lynch, 18, Salisbury, Mass., sponsored by Pashi Ink.

* Elise Metahorakis, 17, Hampton, sponsored by friends and family.

* Elizabeth Mancuso, 19 Hampton, sponsored by Mancuso family.

* Whitney Molbury, 21, Keene, sponsored by friends and family.

* Caitlin Sanders, 16, Saugus, Mass., sponsored by Cathy Sanders

5 Interesting Tidbits and facts of Miss Hampton Beach:

1.) The pageant went international in 1951 and 1952 when Sonja Bunty Rober (1951) and Gaynor Jenkins (1952) both of Montreal, Quebec, took the title.

2.) The first Carnival Queen was Blanche Thompson Worcestor in 1915. She was crowned after selling more than $300 worth of raffle tickets.

3.) In 1946, The Beachcomber newspaper created the first Miss Hampton Beach, chosen for face, form and personality by a panel of judges. She was Marilyn Eaton of Durham, who competed against seven other contestants.

4.) Current pageant organizer Stephanie Lussier says she will never allow a two-piece bathing suit at the competition. After all, she says "we’re not looking for Miss Hawaiian Tropic."

5.) Miss Hampton Beach Michelle Russell met the man she ended up marrying at the competition. He was in the audience.

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