1946 - 1995
Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
Monday, July 31, 1995
History of the "Miss Hampton Beach" Pageant
Carnival Queens from 1915 to 1945 were not chosen by pageant but by a competition of a different nature. Young (and even older) women competed for the honor by selling raffle tickets whose proceeds funded tourism related activities. The woman selling the greatest number of tickets was crowned Carnival Queen and reigned during the week of festivities and parade immediately following Labor Day.
In 1946, The Beachcomber newspaper (still in publication today) created the first Miss Hampton Beach, chosen for face, form and personality by a panel of judges. She was Marilyn Eaton of Durham, New Hampshire who competed against seven other contestants. Miss Cover Girl 1946 became a part of history and as a part of that honor, Marilyn won $10.00 from the publisher, $5.00 gift certificates from local merchants and restaurants, a silver ring and anklet, $10.00 worth of bowling, a silhouette by Lillian Clarke, passes to the Casino Theatre, dancing at the Casino Ballroom and a plane ride over Hampton.
And it also began, 50 years of tradition, pageants and good will ambassadors for Hampton Beach. 1947 brought the second Miss Cover Girl, Lois Yell, a Carnival Week featuring "death defying acts on a swinging pole," the "Gibsons thrilling aerial performers" and the dedication of the new Boardwalk. In 1948, sponsorship of the pageant was shifted from The Beachcomber to the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce and the first title of "Miss Hampton Beach" was awarded to Lorraine Doucette of Amesbury, Massachusetts.
The Pageant went international in 1951 and 1952 when Sonja Bunty Rober (1951) and Gaynor Jenkins (1952) both of Montreal, Quebec took the title. 1954 heralded five weekly beauty competitions in August which paved the way to Miss Hampton Beach; Miss Sunshine, Miss Mermaid, Miss Glamour Girl, Miss Personality, and Miss Sea Nymph. Prior to 1956, contestants had to either be a permanent resident of Hampton Beach, a summer-long resident of the beach or employed here for the summer.
In 1956, the requirements changed to the current status of 16 to 24 years and never married. Hampton Beach, being a resort community, represents areas from across the country and Miss Hampton Beach reflects that attitude. Over the last 49 years we have had nine young women from the immediate area, eleven from the State of New Hampshire, twenty-two from Massachusetts, one from the states of Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut and two from Canada.
There was once a tremendous amount of pomp and circumstance associated with the pageant. In the early 1950's, Miss Hampton Beach was crowned at the beginning of "Carnival Week" (the fore-runner to Children's Festival and Children's Day) and assumed her reign as she was crowned at the "Coronation Ball". Over 100 young women and their escorts, dressed in their finest gowns danced the night away at the Casino Ballroom after the Grand March. Each young woman was pinned with gorgeous corsages and the Ballroom was filled with the scent of flowers. The Queen and her Court arrived at the ball by a "Convertible Parade", a tradition the Chamber of Commerce brought back for this year's contestants.
Over the years, the women who were "Miss Hampton", as well as contestants, have gone on to achieve major accomplishments. Beyond the form and the face were multi-talented young women. Most notably Miss Hampton Beach 1958, Carolyn Ann Komant went on to perform for a full season on the show "77 Sunset Strip" and signed with Warner Bros. Studio. She is currently living in California. Sheila Ann Scott, Miss Hampton Beach 1964 became the first runner up in the Miss America Pageant. Miss Hampton Beach 1971, Jan Angela Fiorentini went on to the fourth place position in the Miss USA Pageant and is currently an artist whose portraits of President Bill Clinton and first Lady Hillary Clinton are about to be presented at the White House. Adriana Molinari, Miss Hampton Beach 1984, became a professional dancer and has been featured in several national publications. 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 movie roles. Others have gone on to earn Masters Degrees and Beverly Hollingworth, 2nd runner up in 1952 went on to serve in the NH House of Representatives for five terms and then as State Senator. She is now the owner and operator of the Hollingworth Motor Court on the Corner of "A" Street and Ashworth Avenue.
As the years of this pageant have progressed, young women now competing, stress the importance of higher education, the role in society, and social economic issues that need to be addressed. Fifty years have brought with them change but the Miss Hampton Beach Pageant remains just one of the important traditions that makes Hampton Beach ..... Hampton Beach.