By MIKE CHAIKEN
The late rock singer Tom Petty sang, “The waiting is the hardest part.”
For the young women competing at Waterbury’s Palace Theater to become the next Miss Connecticut and Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen on June 7 and 8, the waiting that has lasted months since they won their local competitions is almost over.
At the end of the night on June 8, one contestant will be named Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen 2019 and another will be crowned Miss Connecticut.
But before the young women figure out who has won as the competition draws to a close, the waiting will continue for a few moments more, as they stand on stage as the hosts read off the judge’s rankings.
“Waiting to hear the results (at a pageant) is nerve-racking,” said Litchfield’s Ashlyn Manuel, who is competing as Miss Fairfield County’s Outstanding Teen this weekend. “I try to just stay calm and I know that whatever happens it happens for a reason.”
“Your heart is beating so fast,” said Irelynn Janell of Danbury, who is this year’s Miss Forestville’s Outstanding Teen. “I have always thought at that time (during a pageant) that there was nothing more I could do. I worked very hard and at this point it will depend on whose moment it is to shine.”
“My mind constantly races and my heart feels as if it will burst out of my chest as I anxiously await the results,” said Jaymie Bianca of Bristol, this year’s Miss Forestville. “It feels as if the universe ceases for a moment, and I am ardently focused on the present. I wonder if this is the pageant I will win.”
But, after waiting throughout the evening, when their name has been called out as a winner, Autumn Schless of Simsbury, Miss Naugatuck Valley’s Outstanding Teen, said, “The feeling of winning is like no other. You realize that all the hard work you have put into this competition has paid off. You are so overwhelmed with the joy that you just won.”
“My heart flew out of my chest and my first thought was pure joy and excitement (when I won my competition held in Southington),” said Emerson Forbes of Branford, Miss Nutmeg’s Outstanding Teen. “There is nothing more rewarding than looking out into the audience knowing I made my family and friends proud.”
But when the wait proves unfruitful, and another contestant’s name is called, Manuel said, “Getting to see one of your close friends being crowned and seeing how happy they are is also amazing.”
“I know that I did everything I can and I am truly happy for the person being crowned,” said Janell of those times she has lost. “It was their time to shine and I know my time will come. That time is just not now.”
Originally, if she lost earlier pageants, said Bianca, “I always wondered about my wrongdoings and why I was not up to par in my performance that day.
“However, I now view loss in a different light,” said Bianca. “I realize that loss does not define me, rather, it is just another candidate’s crowning moment.”
The Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant preliminary competition will be Friday, June 7 at 7 p.m. at The Palace Theater, 100 East Main St., Waterbury. The competition continues on Saturday, June 8 at 6 p.m.
For tickets, go to PalaceTheaterCT.org. For more information, go to MissCT.org.