A pageant for the ages


Wantagh residents flooded into the high school gymnasium on June 30 to hear from 10 young women who were ready to serve the community. One of the students would be named the next Miss Wantagh. 

The pageant, organized by the Miss Wantagh organization, has been a tradition in the hamlet for 61 years. Director Ella Stevens explained that the winners are role models to their peers and engage in community service. 

“It is not uncommon to find that past Miss Wantagh participants have continued giving back to their community or have shown leadership qualities in their respective careers,” she said. “This year, the Miss Wantagh court has been seen throughout the community heavily engaged in activities for both young and old and everyone in-between.”

Samantha Walsh was crowned Miss Wantagh 2017 on the steps of Wantagh Elementary School after the community’s 81st annual Fourth of July parade. Grace Anne McKenna, Savannah Palas and Jackie Corbin were named first, second and third runners-up, respectively. Brianna Breslin, Elizabeth Byrnes, Kayla Burke, Brittany Genovese, Melissa LoPiccolo and Juliet Watstein were designated ambassadors to the Miss Wantagh Court. 

“Yes, there is only one Miss Wantagh,” Stevens said, “but they all deserved the title. Therefore, they will all work together throughout the year.”

The pageant included plenty of entertainment with a patriotic theme. American Idol finalist and Wantagh resident Adam Ezegelian entertained the crowd with his rendition of “Proud to be an American,” and members of past Miss courts — Emma Carey, Kayla Knight and Tylar Benedetto — performed "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a major hit by The Andrews Sisters and an iconic World War II tune.

The contestants also spoke about a service project that they would take on if they became Miss Wantagh. Going forward, Stevens said, the group would work together to do what they love: helping the community. Stevens said that she would help the teens achieve their goals.

“I will be bringing them to different levels of governments, introducing them to all the community organizations and encourage them to join or participate in the events these organizations sponsor,” she said. “I will always be there to listen to their ideas, and hopefully, help make it happen.”