Miss Pennsylvania USA pageant to be held in Johnstown
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
This November, women and teens from across the state of Pennsylvania will have the opportunity to compete for the title of Miss Pennsylvania USA and Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA. And, for the first time ever, these pageants will be held in Johnstown.
The pageants are scheduled to take place Nov. 2 and 3 at Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. The preliminary pageant is to be held Nov. 2 beginning at 8 p.m. and the final pageant Nov. 3 beginning at 4 p.m.
These competitions serve as the official preliminaries to the nationally televised Miss USA and National Miss Teen USA pageants.
Randy Sanders, who serves as state director for the preliminary pageants in Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, said these pageants were held in Pittsburgh in previous years.
“We decided it was time to shake things up a bit, make a move and that Johnstown was going to be our new host city,” Sanders said.
Applications are still being accepted for both pageants. The deadline to apply is Sept. 30.
“I’ve been involved (in these pageants) for a long time — 30 plus years,” Sanders said. “I’ve seen opportunities become available, doors open up. Women get to meet people, get their name out there and obtain skills that can help them in their careers. We’ve had journalists, actresses, doctors and lawyers (compete).”
Women and teens are eligible to apply if they have never been married or have never had children (biological or adopted). All contestants must be United States citizens and residents of Pennsylvania, as well as at least 14 years of age but still under 28 years of age as of Jan. 1, 2020.
According to the official pageant website, www.misspennsylvaniausa.com, women and teens who are chosen to compete should “spread the word” about their participation, secure sponsors and prepare accordingly for the pageant. No previous pageant experience is necessary. The website contains helpful information about both pageants, application materials and the complete participation rules/guidelines.
Please note that not all women who apply will be invited to compete; a review committee reviews an individual’s materials to determine if she is a good candidate for the title. If selected to compete, the candidate is to be notified via email.
Contestants are to compete in three categories, all of which are weighed equally when it comes to judging. Those categories are: personal interview, swimsuit (for Miss Pennsylvania USA) and active wear (for Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA), and evening gown.
The current titleholder of Miss Pennsylvania Teen USA is Julia Meckley, and the current titleholder of Miss Pennsylvania USA is Kailyn Marie Perez.
“Ultimately,” said Nicole Waligora of the Visitors Bureau, “we needed to determine if we could fulfill their requirements. After some internal discussion and external collaboration, we concluded that we wanted to pursue the opportunity. We presented a proposal to Pageant Associates, and they determined that they wanted to bring their events to Johnstown.
“I was extremely happy and excited for the opportunity, but I was honestly not surprised. I know that our community has the ability to host incredible events. Our organization believes in our community and we know that we are capable of great things.”
It is estimated that these pageants will bring approximately 1,000 visitors to Johnstown; this number includes contestants, staff, and spectators.
“We are excited to welcome our guests and hope that they have the best experience in our community,” Waligora said. “Our community has so much to offer — history, recreation, culture, events. We hope that they take the opportunity to visit us again.”
In the meantime, Sanders said he and his staff are “really excited” about bringing these pageants to Johnstown, a city that he has visited several times before. On his search to determine this year’s host city, he visited Johnstown and said he knew it was “the one” after seeing the PPAC and meeting numerous enthusiastic people in the community.
“It was clear that everyone wanted to make this a big community effort,” Sanders said.