Saturday March 16 the 2013 Mrs. DC America Pageant was held in the Jack Morton Theater on the George Washington University campus. Being a pageant neophyte myself, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The Mrs. DC Pageant was a group of strong, beautiful women who took this opportunity to highlight many charities, sponsors and most of all challenge themselves. The pageant was dedicated to the men and women of the armed forces, and several of the women had husbands in the military. The women represented neighborhoods all around the metropolitan area including Georgetown, Penn Quarter, Chevy Chase, Chinatown, Capitol Hill, Northwest, West End and Kalorama. Overall, this was an extremely positive evening that was all about women’s empowerment, and I secretly found myself wishing I was married just so I could compete next year.
Raquel Riley Thomas was this year’s executive producer and she did a great job with the pageant; it was fast paced with appropriate intermissions, which made the show feel exciting. The competition began with an opening production number, followed by the ubiquitous swimsuit competition and an introduction of the judges. This year’s judges included such famous faces as Mary Ammons of “The Real Housewives of DC” fame, TV personality Chris Bukowski of “The Bachelorette 8”, Miss International 2011 Ciji Dodds, and Cindy Cohen winner of the reality TV show “She’s Got the Look”. Judge Mary Ammons said she got involved with the Mrs. DC organization because “it was an opportunity to empower women and highlight causes in order to make a difference.”
After a quick intermission the evening gown competition was held. Personal favorites for this category were Mrs. Chevy Chase Helene Combe’s royal purple backless dress, and Mrs. West End Veronica Jeon-Marshall’s impeccable white ruffled haute couture gown. After recognition of sponsors and past title holders, host Kristen Berset named the special category winners. Mrs. Georgetown Meagan Barnes swept the competition being named “Most Physically Fit” and “Most Photogenic.” Mrs. Chinatown Adrienne Oliveira won the award for gaining the most sponsorships, while Mrs. Penn Quarter Tracy Hobiena won the “Miss Congeniality” award as she was seen as the most friendly and willing to help her fellow competitors. This lead up to the top four girls being named: Mrs. Penn Quarter Tracy Hobiena, Mrs. Georgetown Meagan Barnes, Mrs. Capitol Hill Sophia Nawab and Mrs. Northwest Mikell Reed Carroll.
After the final question round, which Sophia Nawab excelled in with a great answer on home-schooling, there was a performance by the Kaliente Dance Group. Mrs. DC America 2012 Arika Burton took her final walk before it was finally time to announce the winner. To the excitement of nearly the entire audience, Mrs. Georgetown Meagan Barnes was named the winner of Mrs. DC America 2013! Mrs. Capitol Hill Sophia Nawab was first runner-up, with Mrs. Northwest Mikell Reed Carroll coming in third place followed by Mrs. Penn Quarter Tracy Hobiena. Judge Ciji Dodds, Miss International 2011, felt that Mrs. Georgetown Meagan Barnes deserved to win because “she was the total package. She could engage an audience, was beautiful and was a great representative of a DC woman.”
This pageant had such an overwhelmingly positive theme and that was largely due to the women competing. Some of the charities the women were highlighting with their platforms were “Breast Cancer Awareness and Prevention” for Mrs. Kalorama Sarah Castro Blynn. Mrs. Capitol Hill Sophia Nawab was bringing attention to Operation IT which aims to “combat Veteran unemployment with IT skills”. Mrs. Nawab said she got involved with the Mrs. DC organization as a way to challenge herself after getting married. She lost 50 pounds and wanted to do something that was just for herself and for charity to help her “find her own identity after getting married”. This is a powerful message to women that, especially after marriage, they can have an opportunity to do something on their own that will challenge and change them, making them a better person and a more content wife. Mrs. DC America 2012 Arika Burton said that winning the crown at last years pageant was life changing for her. Mrs. Burton said it gave her several opportunities including “networking with amazing people, charities and local businesses while promoting a platform of financial literacy”. Most of all she felt it helped her “find her voice” as a woman.
This event was a great way to help women feel good about themselves all while helping others. I had an amazing time at the pageant and I look forward to seeing what Mrs. DC America 2013 Meagan Barnes achieves with her title this year. I will be rooting for her in the Mrs. America pageant later this year, and hopefully the Mrs. World competition as well!