Crowning achivements for ladies

It was a night of smiles and sparkle as delegates competed for the individual crowns in the 2013 Miss Teen, Miss and Mrs. Pennsylvania International pageants inside the Jaffa Shrine Center auditorium Saturday evening.

Snagging the Miss Teen title was Miss Teen Hollidaysburg Ashlee Fagans, 17, who wore a flowing one-shoulder peach gown with crystal embellishment at the waist.

“I am feeling amazing right now,” she said soon after she was crowned and given her sash. “It’s unreal.”

Ashlee is a senior at Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School. Her pageant platform is pediatric cancer.

She is hoping to raise money for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, she said.

She was inspired to select her platform because of her cousin, Ryder McDermitt, 7, who was diagnosed as a toddler with adult leukemia, a type of cancer rarely found in a person under the age of 50.

Winning the Mrs. title was Mrs. Newtown, Marci Degol McNair, 35, who is a Hollidaysburg school district graduate.

She said she has friends who are pageant winners and winning meant a lot to her. She will get to help her platform, the Armed Forces Foundation, she said.

Miss DuBois Rachel Syktich, 23, won the Miss title.

“I’m feeling very blessed and grateful,” she said, noting she could not have done it without her friends, family and fellow delegates.

Winners will go on to compete in the Miss Teen, Miss and Mrs. International pageants taking place in Chicago in July.

For the first time this year, a competition was held between 10-to-14 years old for the title of Miss Junior Teen Pennsylvania International. The youngest contestants competed through a written essay and the evening gown portion.

Abigail Traxler, 12, of Lewistown, won the title. This was her third pageant, but her first win, she said.

The Miss Teen pageant is open to 13-to-18-years-old; Miss, 19-to-29-year olds; and Mrs., 21-to-56-year olds.

The Miss Teen and Miss competed in interview, aerobic wear, fun fashion and evening gown. Those vying for the Mrs. title competed in all those categories except fun fashion.

For the first time this year, the Teen and Miss prize packages included $500 scholarships.

Becky Thoreson, Susan Botek, Jim Gregory, Kayla Rivera and Dawn Pellas served as judges.

The interview counts as half of the score for the Mrs. title, and 40 percent for the Miss and Miss Teen titles, said State Director Jodi Cessna, who celebrated her 10th years as director.

Mirror Staff Writer Amanda Gabeletto is at 949-7030.