By MOLLY WESTFALL
On Saturday, the new Miss Connecticut 2015 was crowned at the Cabaret Theater at the Mohegan Sun.
Twenty-two year-old Colleen Ward, a native of Wolcott, took home the crown, representing the Miss Windham County local title. Jjust moments after her crowning, she stated “I am so excited…and super tired. It was all worth it.”
First and foremost, Ward said she wants to represent literacy, and her platform “Promoting Childhood Literacy: Encouraging a Healthy Mind for a Healthy Life” as well as get out into the community. “That’s another big thing with me, so, I want to get out into the community and make sure I’m not just a Miss Connecticut that’s seen but a Miss Connecticut that’s heard.”
Miss Southington and Miss Bristol both cracked the top five, earning the positions of third and second runner up.
When asked about her feelings standing amongst the top five, Valerie Voccio, Miss Southington and third runner up to Miss Connecticut, said she just felt so blessed and humbled to be a Christian woman professing her faith openly and was recognized.
Miss Bristol Gina Salvatore not only placed second runner up but she was also the recipient of the Miracle Maker award, an award given to the contestant who raises the most money for the Miss America Organization’s national platform: Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Salvatore raised $2,000 and plans to continue her fund raising as she finishes out her reign as Miss Bristol. Gina said her success is driven by her philosophy of staying true to herself, “I prepared much further in advance this year, so I just felt very good. One thing I really wanted to do coming to into States was just be myself and follow my heart, and be Gina.”
Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen, the “little sister” program of the Miss Connecticut Organization also crowed a new 2015 representative. Seventeen-year old Sapna Raghavan of Ellington became the first Indian-American to be crowned Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen. Her first pageant earned her the title of Miss Greater Rockville’s Outstanding Teen this past year and she took it all home on her first try at the state pageant. Her platform, “Embracing Diversity Through Cultural Awareness” is something that she said she believes in so strongly. “It’s brought me up to here and it can only bring me higher and I really, really want to help other kids out there who’ve faced racial bullying; and I want us to celebrate the fact that all these cultures are in this room right now and they’re all supporting me.”
Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri was the first Indian-American to hold the title of Miss America and Raghavan plans to follow in her footsteps, she said “she is the epitome of Miss America to me.”
Bristol’s Outstanding Teen, Amanda Morelli was a first-timer to the state pageant as well, and earned herself the position of second runner up. “This was an amazing experience; I’m just speechless right now and I’m extremely emotional, I know I made my parents proud and it means the world to me.”
Mum City’s Outstanding Teen, Samantha Anderson was named first runner up and she also took home the Miracle Maker Award in the teen division, she raised $2,695 to go to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
“All of these girls are so amazing,” said Anderson, “I did the best that I can do, I’m so satisfied with my ranking, and I’m so honored to have even had this experience.”
Miss Forestville, Jillian Duffy placed among the top eight finalists in the Miss division, and Southington’s Outstanding Teen Alison Duffy, and Plantsville’s Outstanding Teen Christina Judd placed among the top ten finalist in the Teen division.
Miss Forestville’s Outstanding Teen Jaymie Bianca and Miss Plainville’s Outstanding Teen also competed this past weekend.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN