This year’s Cutest Little Long Islanders have been chosen. More than 300 kids ages 2 to 4 competed in Newsday’s second annual Cutest Little Long Islander contest. Here are the winners in the boys and girls categories, determined by which entrants got the most votes during a weeklong online voting period that ended June 14.
GIRL: Lia Bagnasco
Lia, 3, of North Babylon, is old enough to speak for herself in an interview about winning the contest. “I love to go in the pool and play with my friends,” Lia says.
She is about to become a big sister — her mom, Theresa Spiller, 37, is due with another girl on June 17.
Mom shot the winning photo of Lia, and, like the boy’s contest winner’s photo, it was taken at Easter. Spiller snapped it with a regular camera — not a cellphone — that Lia’s dad, William, had given her as a gift. “It just shows the light in her eyes,” Spiller says. “She’s always so happy.”
The family enlisted extended members in California to vote in the contest, and posted voting info on their social media accounts. Spiller’s dad owns Jumping Jacks car stereo store in West Babylon, and he asked customers to cast a vote, Spiller says. “We’re a little competitive,” Spiller jokes.
BOY: Parker Dapontes
Parker, who will be 3 in July, is from Holtsville. “He is the funniest, most outgoing little boy,” says his mom, Jessica Dapontes, 25. “He loves soccer, baseball, basketball, anything with a ball.”
Dapontes submitted a photo of Parker taken at Easter, and he is holding an Easter basket filled with colorful eggs. “That smile in that picture, I thought it would be perfect,” Dapontes says.
Dapontes, a certified nurse’s assistant at the Stony Brook Veteran’s Home, tapped family, friends and more during the weeklong voting. “It was such a stressful week for me. We became obsessed with it,” Dapontes says. “We kept checking, checking to see what place he was in. I texted my co-workers to text all their friends. It paid off.”
Dapontes says she will use some of the $500 winnings to buy Parker a blowup pool for the backyard. “We are so excited,” she says of winning.