In an effort to win the pageant crown, 11 women from Long Island and New York City strutted in ballgowns, displayed their talents and shared their philosophies on life Sunday during the Ms. New York Senior America competition.
“No swimsuit competition,” joked the show’s co-host Chiara Klein. “Thankfully.”
The 26th annual pageant features contestants over 60 years old who are judged on inner beauty, attitude and talent, said pageant director Marleen Schuss.
“It shows the exuberance, the energy of women of this age,” she said. Before the show, each woman sat with the panel of judges for personal interviews, Schuss said.
During the show, there were performances by past pageant winners and dance numbers by the Seasoned Steppers, a dance troupe made up of former pageant contestants.
Sunday’s contestants hailed from Manhattan to Coram -- though the pageant was open to contestants from all of New York State -- and their friends and family members nearly filled the auditorium at Lindenhurst High School.
Their talents ranged from song and dance to theatrical monologues and stand-up comedy.
Their philosophies on life summed up years of experience.
“I believe in dancing to my own music,” said Elaine Igneri, of Great Neck. “I believe in singing to my own song. I believe in the greater power that be and that power is magnificent.”
After a farewell presentation from the outgoing Ms. New York Senior America Queen, Elisabeth Zamarelli, who spent her year as queen “meeting and greeting” senators, congressmen and local politicians, the judges handed out awards for Miss Congeniality and fourth through first runner-up.
Kathleen Keating, 62, took home the night’s highest honor.
The Freeport woman, who shimmied across the stage during the talent portion as she performed a routine to “Do You Love Me” by the Contours, said she was “totally stunned and very excited” to be crowned.
Keating, who was second runner-up in the same competition two years ago, said she was inspired to try again by the other contestants.
“They are talented, they are beautiful and dynamic women,” she said. “I could only hope to be with them.”
Keating said she was also hoping to further the pageant’s message.
“The real motivation is to get a message out there to younger women,” she said. “Don’t fear getting older; there’s so much to life. Women, as we age, we really get better; we get more elegant, more self-assured -- there’s a lot of fun to have.”
With her crown, Keating also received a $1,000 cash prize, the opportunity to travel and represent the Ms. New York Senior America pageant during the year, and will move on to compete nationally in the Ms. Senior America 2011 pageant.
The 10 women who competed with Keating were: Joan Allen, of Babylon, who was crowned Ms. Congeniality and first runner-up; Carol Barnette, of Freeport, who won third runner-up; Henna Boucher, of Jackson Heights, who won second runner-up; Celicia Kaps, of New York City; Dorothy Mauri, of Farmingville; Helen Callaghan, of Levittown; Evelyn Gramazio, of Coram; Elaine Igneri, of Great Neck; Mary Ann Smith, of East Meadow, who won fourth runner-up; and Teresa Voegler, of North Babylon.
Pictured: Kathleen Keating is crowned Ms. New York Senior America 2011, cheered on by former pageant queen Helen McCarney, right. (April 3, 2011)