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Miss Long Island winners crowned as founder bids adieu

Geena Cardalena, 17, of Floral Park, left, and

Geena Cardalena, 17, of Floral Park, left, and Jenna Tirado, 20, of Manorville, are crowned Miss Long Island Teen and Miss Long Island, respectively, for 2015 on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014 at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts. Credit: John Fischer

Geena Cardalena, 17, and Jenna Tirado, 20, were enveloped in a circle as the other contestants swarmed around to hug and congratulate the new queens.

Cardalena was still struggling to hold back tears, having just moments before been crowned Miss Long Island Teen along with Tirado, who was crowned Miss Long Island for 2015 on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, at the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts.

“I was hoping to place in the top five,” said Cardalena, who placed in the top five in the same pageant last year. “But, I mean, you never expect to win. Just being the last two girls, it was just the most amazing feeling, and I’m just so excited to start this year.”

The two will advance to the Miss New York Teen USA and Miss New York USA pageants respectively in January, where they will compete against women throughout the state. They will also be expected to travel to various functions and events on Long Island.

Hopefully, I’ll be working with the American Heart Association since that was my platform,” Tirado said. “I really want to get into the schools with children because I think that heart disease does start when you’re younger."

The pageant had 17 Miss Long Island teen participants, while 16 competed for Miss Long Island, where the contestants competed in swimwear and evening gowns. The top 10 in each category delivered speeches on the platform of their choice, ranging from bullying to breast cancer awareness.

The final five in each category were asked questions on topics such as curfews for Long Island teens to legalizing marijuana in New York.

In addition to the top winners, the pageant offered awards for other categories, including Most Spirited and Most Photogenic.

A special segment was also held honoring founder Lori Thomas for the hard work and time she has put into making the pageant a success.

For Thomas, a winner of three state pageant titles, this year’s pageant was an emotional one because she is stepping down as executive director, a position she has held since starting the pageant in 2007.

Sabrina Mastrangelo and Jessi Ricco Simeone will take over as co-executives.

Mastrangelo, 18, previously held the titles of Miss Long Island Teen and Miss New York Teen for 2012. Ricco Simeone, 26, is also a former queen, holding the title of Miss Long Island 2013.

“They know the standards, they believe in it, they have a passion for it,” said Thomas.

Mastrangelo and Ricco Simeone say that while it will not be the same without her, they are confident that they will be able to continue on her legacy by teaching and inspiring future queens.

“We love her, and we love what she has done for us as our director,” said Mastrangelo. “But we’ve learned a lot from her, and we’re ready to take everything that we’ve learned and offer it to our girls.”

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