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Sun., Dec. 28
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Massena woman staging Miss Massena pageant Friday at mall

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MASSENA - Carmela Phelix said she can remember the days when Massena had several beauty pageants.

But those days are now gone, with just one pageant being held locally.

She hopes to change that by staging the Miss Massena beauty pageant, which will be held at 5 p.m. Friday in center court at the St. Lawrence Centre mall.

“It’s my first time doing this. My daughter does Sunburst pageants. Those are really the only pageants that come up this way. She loves doing them,” Ms. Phelix said.

“I was trying to figure out where we could find pageants around this area, and there’s nothing. There used to be a lot of pageants up this way when I was in high school. I thought I would try to bring some of them back,” she said.

While growing up, Ms. Phelix said, there were “at least more than a dozen different beauty queens” in the area, including the VFW, Amvets, Massena Volunteer Fire Department and those who participated in pageants organized by Ed Ackerman.

“You don’t see those anymore. That’s why I figured, if I do these, the queens will actually have responsibilities. They’ll actually be going into parades and will be present at town events like the Heritage Festival and Labor Day. I’d like to get the older ones into the school system for speaking events. They can pick a platform like bullying, teen sex or drugs and alcohol,” she said.

The pageant is open to girls ages 2 to 18 who attend Massena Central Schools.

“We have five age divisions. Each division has a queen and two princesses. It also covers the congeniality category, casual wear, evening wear and photogenic. We’re going to do a hometown winner. I think we’ll hand every person in the audience a little piece of paper and have them pick their favorite contestant for People’s Choice,” Ms. Phelix said.

The age divisions are 2-4, 5-7, 8-11, 12-14 and 15-18.

The entry fee is $75, which she said “covers pretty much everything in the pageant” including the crowns, sashes and trophies. Any money remaining after covering those expenses will be donated to the Massena Nursery School.

That idea came about after Ms. Phelix and a friend went to dinner one night and began discussing what could be done with the remaining money.

“I said I’d probably use it for future pageants, to have it ready for next year. She said why don’t you find an organization to donate some of it. I said that’s a really great idea. What organizations locally would benefit from this?” Ms. Phelix said.

They “tossed around a few ideas” and came up with the idea for the nursery school donation.

“I had one parent from the nursery school whose daughter is entering the pageant,” she said.

Ms. Phelix said she came up with the idea in December and planned to hold the pageant during the recent Massena Winter Carnival. But between the holidays and her work schedule at Rose Hill, she wasn’t able to organize it in time.

“I didn’t have a whole lot of time to dedicate to getting it organized then,” she said.

Although Friday was the original deadline to sign up, Ms. Phelix said she has enough contestants who have already signed up to cover her costs and will accept entries up to and including the day of the pageant.

“I’m getting more response now than when I first advertised. The last few days I’ve gotten more than 10 girls 100 percent confirmed. I just got confirmation from the mall that they handed out over 25 applications. The phone calls, Facebook messages and email messages are starting to trickle in,” she said.

“I’m looking more or less for people that would have a positive image for the village, people that obviously love being in Massena and like to meet people, people who want to make a change,” she said.

She wants the judges to see the girls’ personalities, how they react to and engage an audience with eye contact, their posture and other attributes.

“We obviously want them to be comfortable and have fun,” Ms. Phelix said.

There will be three judges, all former state winners and all local, she said.

“That was an idea my mom had come up, to find former pageant winners to help judge,” she said.

They’ll be using the mall for their first contest, providing them the space they need and the crowd to watch the pageant. There will also be an area for the girls to do their wardrobe changes.

“It’s a nice big area that’s able to hold a stage and have the rest of the area for spectators,” Ms. Phelix said.

She said she plans to be at the mall all day on Friday, and contestants are welcome to drop by to familiarize themselves with the stage.

“I think maybe getting them comfortable with it is a good idea, especially for the ones who’ve never done it before. I’ll have some kids that have won pageants before through Dick Gillespie’s pageant there to help the girls learn the proper walk and proper turn and stage presence,” she said.

Older contestants will also do a pre-interview prior to the pageants, “so the earlier they get there, the better,” Ms. Phelix said.

“It’s more like a job interview. They’re going to be a queen for a year, and they’re going to do public appearances,” she said.

For more information, contact Ms. Phelix at 315-705-4714 or email

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