My reactions to this pageant as a whole are very mixed. I was left confused when they announced the top 10. Some very unusual choices were made and then I thought to myself, 'Am I watching a pageant or a concert?' Too many musical acts in my pageants are really starting to annoy me. Maybe I'm just getting older, now that I'm not a teenager anymore but am I the only one fast-forwarding these mini-concerts every time I watch a recent pageant? Well, I know I'm not, especially because all of you devoted pageant fans with whom I talk via e-mail regularly feel the same way. I didn't care for the concerts given by Usher, Mandy Moore, Better than Ezra, and Jagged Edge.

Let's start with the hosts, Brian McFayden and Mandy Moore. Both of them did an excellent job. No complaints. Mandy Moore seemed very comfortable on stage and came across as very likeable. Again, like I said last year, Brian McFayden is well suited to a teen competition. One plus to this pageant=Ashley Coleman's hair!!! I was amazed at what a difference a hairstyle makes because Miss Teen USA 1999, acting as a special commentator, looked amazing with her new do.

The introduction for the delegates was way too fast. Each delegate got all of 2 seconds to say her name and state. I wasn't very pleased with this year's top ten list. Last year's top ten was well chosen but this year's group seemed like the names were picked out of a hat. So many deserving candidates were left out and I know my predictions list is waaaaaayyyy better and certainly more sensible. In comparison, I only got 4 out of 10 semifinalists plus 1 alternate and 1 honorable mention. I hate it when prelim judges don't know how to pick a top 10. Virginia was on everyone's list and rightfully so. She had the best body and her gown was superb. How she didn't make the semis is incomprehensible! Kansas was on a few lists but I didn't really like her voice, yet she was tall and striking with a unique gown. Delaware looked like a combination of Britney Spears and Sarah Michelle Gellar packaged into one beautiful gown. It was a shame not to see her up there. Kentucky was among the most photogenic, with a tall, regal look about her. Illinois had a stunning gown but she wasn't as strong in swimsuit. Tennessee usually does well but this year's delegate didn't really stand out as much. If there were going to surprises this year, I would have liked to have seen Vermont up there because she had such a pleasant look about her. South Carolina was also on many lists but I guess what's done is done.



Winner=Missouri-Marissa Whitley

Winner=Virginia-Kathleen Lighthiser

1st Runner Up=New York-Gloria Sophia Almonte

1st Runner Up=Kansas-Lindsay Mackey

2nd Runner Up=Massachusetts-Marianna Zaslavsky

2nd Runner Up=Texas-Katherine Perello *

3rd Runner Up=Texas-Katherine Perello

3rd Runner Up=Delaware-Christie Aiken

4th Runner Up=Indiana-Jillian Dornbush

4th Runner Up=Kentucky-Katherine Faulkner



6. California-Casey McClain

California-Casey McClain *

7. Louisiana-Paige Mackenzie Egan

Illinois-Brittany Richmond

8. Georgia-Brandy Drake

Tennessee-Jessica Myers

9. Washington-Shannon Hulbert

Georgia-Brandy Drake *

10. District of Columbia-Jacqueline Avielle Drakeford

Missouri-Marissa Whitley *


ALTERNATES: Mississippi, New York *, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Vermont


HONORABLE MENTIONS: Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana *, Minnesota, Nevada


* = made actual top ten

I liked the little intervals when we got to hear the delegates talk about issues that teens face. Some delegates poked fun at their unusual attributes like Montana's foot with a crooked toe. There were interesting moments where issues like self-consciousness and school violence were tackled head-on. Funny pick up lines like "Fat penguins....thought I'd say something to break the ice!" One touching moment was when Idaho starting crying because she was treated like an outcast because she didn't have blonde hair and blue eyes. I'm glad that many of the judges in modern pageants are able to look past hair and eye color.

The judges were obviously a snickery bunch, not taking their job too seriously. The panel included contestants from Survivor and Big Brother as well as a professional stripper. Also thrown in were Raven-Symone (all grown up since she played Olivia on the Cosby Show), LFO's Rich Cronin and Kerr Smith from Dawson's Creek who appeared to be sleeping then waking up. That little move didn't impress me at all. Immature adults with few accomplishments judging extremely mature and accomplished teens doesn't seem balanced.

For the semifinalists' opening runway walk, they modelled nice, stylish black outfits. New York stated that she was the first Latina from the Bronx to win Miss New York Teen. DC was a surprise altogether. Indiana kind of caught me off guard because she is that kind of delegate who other people were noticing but I just couldn't see it. Louisiana looked sweet and talked about her post-secondary plans. Massachusetts had a bit of a resemblance to Miss Kansas Teen 97, Mariah Bergmann. Missouri, our winner, was just spunky and she looked like a combination of Courtney Hamilton (Miss Arizona Teen 96), Jo-Ann Strauss (Miss South Africa 2001), and Rain Pryor. Washington is an experienced model and athlete. Georgia's accent didn't really appeal to me. California was clearly modelled after Shauna Gambill. She had a similar speaking manner and a short haircut like Shauna sported at Miss World 1998. She also graduated high school at age 16, which is quite an accomplishment. Texas, the homecrowd fave, overcame a speech disorder.

For the swimsuit competition, all the swimsuits seemed to accentuate the delegates' love handles. New York was first and she looked great. She had nice long legs and great abs. As Oregon said several times, New York rocked the house! DC reminded me of Akuba Cudjoe and let's just leave it at that. Indiana looked okay but I thought she was a smidge chubby and that her score was too high. Louisiana looked fairly short but she looked fair but not outstanding. Massachusetts was pretty ho-hum but you could her abs. Missouri has a big build and she certainly knew how to stand. Her spunky walk with a sort of carefree spirit really helped. Washington looked good and I did notice her in the prelims but I didn't think she'd make it. Even though she did make the semis, she didn't go far. Georgia looked nicer in pictures than on screen. Her build showed nicely in pictures but she just looked okay overall. California looked confident but the judges seemed kind of mixed on their opinions of her. Texas looked good and ended up winning the swimsuit competition. There were lots of girls outside of the top 10 that looked better in swimsuit than some of the semifinalists.

For evening gowns, the music had an interesting sound. New York's gown looked nice and unique. Black up top with a white satin skirt and a chain belt and it helped her scores shoot right up. DC had a big orange ballgown with buttons on the stomach area. How she managed to make the top ten seems to have baffled many people. Indiana's gown was a pleasant lavender number. I didn't think it flattered her that much but it was okay. Louisiana looked nice in her princess gown which was also the same gown worn by Nebraska. Massachusetts had a nice white gown. Not necessarily the right body but I did like the sheer back. Missouri worked her gown wonderfully to take this competition. Something about her walk just makes you smile. Washington had one of the too-many white gowns this year so it didn't really standout. Georgia had unusual ruffles in her red gown and I didn't think it flattered her. She could have gone with a gown that would have better emphasized her figure. California knows that she has that certain something and you can see it in her walk. Her gown had nice designs on it. Finally, Texas had a gown that may have been inspired by Nicole O'Brian's gown, only it was two shades of silver. A silvery white top with a dark greyish ballgown bottom.


New York































With that followed the top 5. This year, something interesting happened. There was a deadlock tie between the 5th and 6th place delegates. Both Massachusetts and California had a composite score of 9.3183 but it was Massachusetts that advanced to the top 5. I had no idea how the tie was broken and so I just assumed that it was because Massachusetts got the higher score in the swimsuit competition that she advanced instead of California. I really would have like to have heard California answer her questions because I think she would have done very well.

The top 5 were asked questions by Brian and then they answered one question written by another delegate. Massachusetts was first and was asked what gives her butterflies in her stomach. She replied that seeing a guy she like makes her feel a little girly and happy. Brian asked if she felt that way around him and she said just a little. Then Brian posed the question written by Wisconsin, "What would you do if your best friend was suicidal?" Marianna stated that she was actually in this situation and that she told her friend that she couldn't live without her and ended up telling her parents to save her. She came across as sweet and unpretentious but her performance was just okay. New York followed. Brian tried to say "How ya doin'" in a Bronx accent and Gloria said he didn't quite get it right. The worst thing her parents found out about her was the time that she hid her report card because she failed a few classes but when her mom found it, she got in trouble. She was then asked Montana's question, "If you dress ultra sexy, are you asking for trouble?" Gloria decided to be frank and say that you are asking for trouble and criticism and then she picked on Christina Aguilera and told her to ease up on the eye shadow. Gloria was funny and she knew how to talk the talk. I really liked her performance here. Texas said she ate 5 candy bars for energy. The dumbest thing she did to show off in front of a guy was to strut in very high heels only to fall flat on her face. Florida's question was that many schools provide childcare services and she wanted to know their opinion. Katherine felt that it was sending the wrong message, that pregnant teens can get pregnant and still be educated and that teens should take control and not get pregnant. I thought that was a little harsh to deny teens that have already made the mistake although it is true that teens should have more control over this sort of thing. Indiana pointed out her family waving like they were on a stranded island. She was asked what she wasn't taught growing up that would have been good to know. With a bit of a slur in her speech, she replied that there was nothing at all. Reminds me of a recent Miss Universe pageant for some reason--Take the easy way out and change nothing. Colorado's question for her was if video surveillance should be in school. Jillian felt it was an invasion of privacy, in spite of things being stolen, it takes the fun out of hanging out with friends and school just wouldn't be fun. I think she should have been a little more careful with that answer. I wasn't too impressed with her altogether. Finally, Missouri (not Missoura, but Missou is acceptable) discussed the proper pronunciation of her state and she was asked what the best thing about boys are. Marissa likes cuteness, honesty, and she likes a flirt. Delaware's question for her was whether school uniforms were good or bad. This question was interesting because I said earlier that Marissa reminded me of Courtney Hamilton (AZ Teen 96) who was also asked about school uniforms. Her reactions to school uniforms were mixed. She said it was good for kids that can't afford to buy trendy clothes and they won't feel the peer pressure to go out and maybe steal those clothes but she also said that school uniforms take away from your self individuality so it could go either way. Missouri's performance was decent.

After Indiana won photogenic, Georgia won "best hair" and Oregon won Congeniality, the prizes were shown and the top 5 were all asked one question. "President Bush's daughters, Jenna and Barbara, have had well publicized problems with underage drinking. Have they been treated fairly by the media?" Massachusetts said yes and no. She seemed a little uncomfortable and stated that privacy should be respected, humans make mistakes, and that as public figures, they should have had more respect for their dad and keep in mind what they were doing. Her time ran out and then New York followed. She said that being the daughters of the president means that the media is even going to tell us when they have a bad hair day. What she wants to know is how did they get into those bars, where the secret service was, and where was their father's guidance and knowledge of where they were. I think New York hit it head on and she was very frank and honest but funny simultaneously. I would have been happy if Gloria won. Texas emphasized that they called 911 on them when they were drinking and that they should be treated fairly as everyone else, not like famous figures. Indiana stated that media never treats celebrities fairly and that they deserved the punishment they received. Missouri said that when you are in that position, you are automatically a role model. Underage drinking is a huge problem and to be caught doing that puts down the whole system and the teenage community as well. There wasn't really a terribly horrible answer among this bunch but I though New York's answer was the best, although Missouri was also right up there.

As the final five was being ranked, Mandy Moore grilled Jillian Parry about what she felt at the time that she won. Jillian said that everyone is watching you and you have to mindful of that, humor helps, be yourself, and that she was actually rooting for the 2nd Runner Up (Kentucky's Kristen Johnson) but was in shock when she won. Jillian looked good as she took her final walk, although some people didn't like her shorter hair. She seemed very sincere and I admire that quality. Her gown with the slit up the front looked very nice.

Indiana was 4th runner up, Texas was 3rd runner up. One interesting irony to note here is that Christie Lee Woods (Texas' only Miss Teen USA) ran for Miss Texas USA this year but she also placed 3rd runner up, even though she did very well throughout the competition. Christie became the first Miss Teen USA not to win her state title on her first try. Kelly Hu, Brandi Sherwood, Jamie Solinger, and Shauna Gambill all won on their first try. 2nd Runner Up was Massachusetts and then New York was a gracious 1st runner up as Missouri's Marissa Whitley took the crown. I was glad to see Miss Kansas, Kristie Knox and Miss Oklahoma, Cortney Amaretta Phillips, rooting for her.

When I looked at my predictions for this year, I thought it was interesting to note that the delegate I predicted in 8th position for Miss Universe won the title, the delegate I predicted in 9th position for Miss USA won the title, the delegate I predicted in 10th position for Miss Teen USA won the title. So it was an 8, 9, 10 thing. Weird coincidence, isn't it? I'm glad Missouri finally won a crown. They have been sending excellent delegates in recent years so they deserve this win. Marissa will be an awesome Miss Teen USA and she will bring a new spunk to the Miss Teen USA title.