Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Miss Florida contestants are primped and pumped

ST. PETERSBURG — Every year, the Apple sisters clamored for seats around the television.

They gazed at the women onscreen, gliding across stage with studded gowns that swept the floor and hair that grazed the sky.

From their St. Petersburg home, the girls graded the beauty queens on makeshift scorecards.

Maybe one day, they'd be the epitome of finesse and beauty. What everyone — secretly or not — wants to be.

Miss America.

It's simple, said Andrea Apple, now 23 and in medical school.

"You can handle anything with charm and wit."

• • •

Forty-six women are competing for the title of Miss Florida at the Mahaffey Theater this weekend.

They are Miss Tampa, Miss Largo, Miss Miami Gardens, Miss Heart of Suwannee River Valley. They are Miss Kumquat Festival, like Andrea Apple. Or Miss Bay Area, like Allison Martin, 18, who actually lives in Dover. Many have competed before. No one expects to win the first time out.

The winner gets $15,000 in scholarships and competes for the title of Miss America.

Modern pageants have been soaked in controversy — gay marriage questions, nude photos, drug use, bungled answers.

The Miss Florida women quickly point out that Miss USA, the organization owned by Donald Trump that fuels most tabloid fodder, is a different ballgame from Miss America.

"This is much more conservative than the Miss USA pageant," said Martin, who is competing for the first time.

Still, they want to be youthful and relevant. They walk with more attitude in their bikinis. They espouse platforms like going green and working out. One contestant, Rosie Justilien, invokes Barack Obama in a monologue she wrote.

They cringe at "old-fashioned."

"I hate the word," said Brittany McMillan, 21. She's Miss Southwest Florida and lives in the Keys. She uses a different word. "It's timeless."

They spray tan and stretch for dance routines. They twirl batons and play chopsticks for their talents. They answer questions about society, politics and their personal platforms in private judging rooms.

They are friends, they say. They adjust straps and give tips — throw back shoulders, refrain from wild arm swings, imagine a pole between your elbows for posture.

They'll finish competing in preliminary contests today. Saturday, the top 10 will vie for the crown.

When they're nervous, they crack a Bible.

They retreat.

"I have an iPod," said Janae DeLeon, 19. She's Miss Heart of Central Florida, but she's from Miami. "I play it and stay in my little corner. I visualize the crown. I visualize winning."

• • •

Andrea Apple has been in the pageant twice before. This is her sister Leja's first time.

They always knew they'd be here together.

They aspire to be like the Miss America contestants they gave high marks in the living room. Not fake. A sense of humor. Smart.

"We're ourselves 100 percent of the time," Andrea said. "What you see is what you get. We're both transparent."

Andrea's talent is clogging. Leja, 19, plays banjo. They go to college and buy matching $10 dresses from Dots and live with their parents.

They're regular gals, they said.

With charm and wit.

Stephanie Hayes can be reached at shayes@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8857.

>>If you go

Ticket details

Tickets are $35 for tonight's 7:30 p.m. preliminary event and $55 for the pageant finals, which starts at 4:30 p.m. for the teen pageant and 7 p.m. for Miss Florida contestants. Tickets may be purchased at the Mahaffey Theater box office or through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or (727) 892-5767.

Miss Florida contestants are primped and pumped 07/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 13, 2009 3:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays beat Orioles, but tough stretch looms that could change their plans (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tuesday was a step back in the right direction for the Rays, who halted a season-high five-game losing streak by hanging on — and we mean that pretty much literally — for a 5-4 win over the Orioles.

    The Rays’ Tim Beckham celebrates with Mallex Smith after hitting a three-run homer in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
  2. Diaz, Taddeo win easily in special Miami Senate primaries

    Blogs

    Two Miami state Senate candidates who raised and spent the most in their respective primaries — Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Democratic businesswoman Annette Taddeo — notched easy victories in a special election Tuesday night.

    Republican candidate Jose Felix Diaz is surrounded by supporters after he won the primary for Florida’s Senate District 40 race. Democrat Annette Taddeo, right, celebrates her victory with supporter Venus Lovely at BJ’s Restaurant in The Falls.
  3. In live debate, Kriseman and Baker ask St. Pete: Is the city better off?

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG

    Mayoral candidates Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker made their best pitch to voters in front of a live television audience on Tuesday night. The candidates essentially asked this: Is the city better off now than it was four years ago?

    Incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker debate in front of a live television audience during the City of St. Petersburg Mayoral Debate at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The event was sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and Bay News 9. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  4. Romano: It all comes down to sewage in this mayoral race

    Local Government

    Well, poop.

    Nothing else really matters, does it?

    Schools, economic development, public safety? Pfft. The Rays stadium, affordable housing, the pier? Ack. When it comes to the St. Petersburg mayoral election, sewage is the yin, the yang and the yuck.

    At Tuesday’s debate, incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman said responsibility lies on him regarding the sewage crisis.
  5. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete

    Crime

    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.