Sunday, November 25, 2007

Kate Michael Shines at Miss DC USA!

All I can say is what a GREAT Thanksgiving weekend I had! Personally, it really could not have gone better... Then again, what could be better than watching my friend, Kate Michael, compete in a beauty pageant? Not too many things.

A little after 1 p.m. on Saturday, I made my way from my hotel to the Foggy Bottom Metro station en route to the Federal Triangle station. A short walk up Pennsylvania Avenue took me to my destination at the JW Marriott Hotel Grand Ballroom where the 2008 Miss DC USA and Miss Teen DC USA pageant was to take place. I arrived a little after 1:30 p.m. At first I didn't see anyone I really knew, but that soon would change as Kate's parents and brother came down from their hotel room - they were very smart to stay at the same hotel as where the pageant was being held. Kate's Mom gave me a wave and I was soon chatting away with them.

The doors to the Grand Ballroom opened just before the scheduled 2 p.m. start time and we found some seats in the second row on the right side of the stage. Kate's boyfriend, Bill Dean, soon joined us and then we waited... and waited. This turned out to be the theme for the day... A little after 2:30 p.m. the preliminary portion of the pageant started... Kate looked beautiful as always in her swimsuit and self-designed evening gown... I soon would find the lighting was not nearly as good as at the Miss DC (America) pageant four months ago. Also, microphones and balloons were in the way practically every shot it seemed, so getting good pictures would prove to be a HUGE challenge all afternoon and evening...

Over 20 girls were competing for the Miss DC crown along with Kate, while six girls were competing for the Teen crown. The prelimaries lasted only an hour and a half, so by 4 p.m. we were all outside the ballroom making plans for the finals, and also making sure we would have enough seats for "Team Kate."

Originally, I had thought about heading back to my hotel between the prelims and the finals and posting some pictures from the event, but that didn't end up happening. Instead, I ended up getting to hang out with Kate and her family. Not at all surprisingly, that was a lot of fun - we ended up in the food court area of the hotel, chatting about just about everything you could think of and, of course, eating.

Around 5:30 p.m., we made our way back down to the area in front of the ballroom. We chatted some more and then another of Kate's biggest fans made his way - photographer Joe Whiteko from the website! Though I had never met Joe before, I was very familiar with his outstanding work. Kate had to make her way backstage and her parents had to change into their night attire, so left me and Joe to talk. It was fun getting to talk about some of his work, most especially the photo shoot and the props for the outstanding Kate's New Clout article he did earlier this year.

By 6:30, we were all back in line and ready for the finals. Joe was there with us, waiting to get his photographer's seat. In the meantime, 2006 Miss Virginia (America), Adrianna Sgarlata - Kate's friend and travel companion for the 2007 Miss America pageant - came over to Kate's family and reacquantied herself. Adriana was very gracious and friendly. Joe then got his credential and front-row seat. The doors opened for the rest of us about 15 minutes later. Kate's family and I quickly grabbed seats in a couple of rows just behind the judges in front of the stage... Bill and several of Kate's other friends would be arriving there right around 7 p.m...

The finals began a little before 7:30 p.m. Although we were all pretty certain Kate would make the final 10, we didn't want to just assume anything. We were all relieved when Kate's name was called for the final 10, and again when she had made the final five.

A little before 9:30 p.m., the finalists finished up with the question of why each of them should be the new Miss DC USA. Quite honestly, I really thought Kate won the pageant with her answer as it was easily the best, and most original one. The other four contestants all gave pretty similiar, almost rehearsed answers, mostly talking about how they deserved to be the winner based on the person that they were, not really elaborating on what they would do as Miss DC USA. Kate talked about making DC a "sexy, sophisticated city" and what she would do to make it just that.

So then we waited for the judges final decisions... we were all pretty nervous at that point, and as the first two names were called, we collectively breathed sighs of relief. We were now down to just three finalists. And then it happened - Kate's name got called. Bill and I especially were both a little shocked - we REALLY thought Kate had it won, but it just wasn't meant to be. Still, 2nd runner-up at the Miss DC USA pageant - in a completely new format and system - is something to be VERY proud of. Kate did her absolute best and looked simply incredible - that's all we could ask for.

After the pageant, I reacquainted with 1988 Miss DC (America), Tricia Morrin-Lloyd, who was quick to put things in perspective. Kate will always be number one in our eyes, and that's all that really matters... She still is Miss District of Columbia 2006, and got to be in the Miss America pageant this year. How many people can say that???

I was actually planning on heading to my hotel after it was all over, but instead Kate invited me up to spend some time celebrating with Bill and her friends Tony, Mike and his girlfriend Colleen. Mike is better known to those in DC as Michael Kosmides, the owner of the very hip and happening Play Lounge. I had a fun time with them, telling stories, watching football and, of course, having some drinks.

A little before midnight, it was time for all of us to go - Colleen offered me some "must see" places and things for future trips to DC... we said our goodbyes, and then I headed back to my hotel. It was just a terrific and priceless experience getting to hang out at the pageant and spend time with Kate's family and friends... I very look forward to my next trip out to DC, whenever that may be.


1 comment:

Jen said...

wow..great blog john. i checked out all the links too. that club looks like it would be a good time. im glad u had such a great time and got to hang out w/Kate(and friends). I know how much you were looking forward to it. Glad you made it home safe and sound. have a great nite. ttys