2012 edition of Mum Festival kicked off Friday

By MIKE CHAIKEN
EDITIONS EDITOR
The 2012 Mum Festival kicked off last Friday and there are a pair of new Mums in town.
Grace Gagnon won the honor to be called Miss Mum for the next year during the annual Crowning of Miss Mum at Bristol Central High School. And Victoria Kilbourne was selected by judges as Junior Miss Mum.
After the pageant, and surrounded by well-wishers, Grace said of her honor, “I feel really happy. I don’t think it’s hit me yet but I’m really excited.”
This is Grace’s second year seeking Miss Mum. Last year, she was first runner-up. The Bristol Central High School junior said she wanted to give the pageant another go because “I want to be a really great role model and get involved with the United Way and do other events. I really can’t wait to do the Mum Festival.”
With the title in hand, Grace said among the things she is looking forward to during her year long reign are: “Definitely the Mum Fest, probably the (Forestville Village Association’s annual) duck race, and all the parades.”
Victoria still had a stunned look on her face after being crowned Junior Miss Mum. “I still am not sure if it’s real. I’m so excited. I just can’t believe it.”
Not only did Victoria, a seventh grader at St. Matthew School, win the Junior Miss title, she was voted as Miss Congeniality in the Junior Miss category. “I’m so happy (about winning the award). The other girls are so nice. They’re so welcoming when you do this. It’s a fantastic experience.”
And as the year progresses as Junior Miss Mum, Victoria said, “I’m just looking forward to doing the Mum Festival weekend because when my sister (Olivia Kilbourne) was Junior Miss Mum (2010), I knew it was a huge thing. I’m so excited.”
Grace succeeds Jillian Duffy. Victoria succeeds Taylor Plourd.
Victoria also received the People’s Choice Award. Grace received the appearance award as well as Miss Congeniality.
Milli Vibert, who was first runner-up for Miss, won Most Photogenic and the Dave Lepore Essay Award.
Jaymie Bianca was first runner-up for Junior Miss Mum.
Allison Duffy, a Junior Miss contestant, won the interview award.
Also competing for Miss Mum were: Trinette Robinson, Rhiannon Carta, Lauren DeRosa, and Stephanie Laprise.
Also running for Junior Miss Mum were: Katrina Higley, Alyssa Daly, Caitlyn Archambault, Janie Murphy, Mackenzie Lindroth, and Shauna Dukes.
In his opening remarks at the crowning, Mayor Art Ward noted the work is beginning for Victoria and Grace. He said as winners of the Miss Mum crowns, they will serve as ambassadors for the community. He said the Miss Mum representatives, through their hard work throughout the year, illustrate the dedication of the youth of today in Bristol.
At the Crowning of Miss Mum last Friday, and in ceremonies on Saturday, the festival also saluted its Hometown Hero for 2012, Tom LaPorte.
During Saturday’s ceremony during activities on Memorial Boulevard, Mum Festival chair Darlene Sawe, explained the Hometown Hero is chosen based on whether the honoree gives of him/ herself selflessly, works to help others, and is an all-round community person. Sawe said LaPorte is the epitome of those qualities.
Ward said LaPorte is the type of person who goes about his work on behalf of the community under the radar, without telling everyone what he did, how did, he just does it and runs with it.
In comments at the festival, LaPorte, in his typical fashion, turned the attention away from himself to those he felt were the true heroes. From the city workers to the city’s elected officials to the men and women in the armed forces to the leaders of the city’s religious community to the physicians and nurses to the people of Bristol, Laporte explained those people were the true hometown heroes.

Hometown Hero honoree Tom LaPorte, left, cracks a joke Saturday that makes Mayor Art Ward, right laugh. Also pictured are Mum Festival chairs Elliot Nelson, second from left, and Darlene Sawe.

The new Junior Miss Mum Victoria Kilbourne, left, and the new Miss Mum Grace Gagnon wave to the crowd at Bristol Central High School on Friday as the Crowning of Miss Mum kicked off the 2012 Mum festival. See more photographs of the festival on pages 23 and 24.

Junior Miss Mum Victoria Kilbourne, left, and Miss Mum take in some shopping Saturday.