It was all about making an entrance Saturday as kids proudly showed their pearly whites while strutting down the runway at the first Arizona Kids Pageant at the Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix.
The Young Model and Talent Agency and the Disney Store made the event possible for more than 200 children ages 2 to 7 from across the Valley and as far away as Chicago and Detroit.
Just like the event itself, most participants said this was their first pageant.
“We just came today to have some fun, and if we get an offer for a Gap Kids ad or commercial … great,” said Warren Walker of Tempe and father of 2-year-old participant Seylove Walker. “The hardest part preparing was making sure his kimono from Japan arrived on time.”
Extravagant costumes, sequins, frilly dresses, tuxedos, and perfectly groomed hair filled the room for much of the noon to 5 p.m. event. Two separate pageants were held, consisting of several different competitions each with a boy and girl winner.
The first pageant was for children ages 2 and 3, and the second was for children ages 4 to 7. Mothers and fathers proudly watched as their sons and daughters walked on stage as their names were announced.
“I immediately started shaking, and I haven’t been able to stop shaking,” said Jeovanna Gonzalez of Phoenix and mother of 3-year-old participant and winner Gianna Gonzalez. “It was definitely worth it and priceless to see my daughter so happy walking down the runway in her beautiful ivory gown.”
While the event was a competition, most parents attended with no expectations.
Boy and girl winners were each picked within four categories. The first was a dressy competition, in which the boys were referred to as "The Charmers" and the girls as "The Living Dolls."
The second featured children in their best Halloween costumes. The third competition was the most photogenic. And the fourth was reserved for the best talent.
The top-scoring boy and girl were crowned as the overall king and queen.
The event was judged by three special guests.
Film director and writer Andy Rodriguez-McCradic looked for a few key traits as kids took advantage of this chance to shine.
“Personality, poise and how well kids can follow directions really stands out,” Rodriguez-McCradic said. “You never know who you’re going to find, and the talent…it’s undeniable, even at this age.”
While everyone walked away with at least a golden star-shaped trophy and a smile on their faces, others left with Disney costumes and additional trophies as well. In the afternoon competition, a first-grade boy from Scottsdale was announced winner of the photogenic competition, formal attire, and overall king as well.
“I got four trophies today, and three Disney costumes,” said 6-year-old Zachary Schawelson. “I didn’t even want to wear this costume, but somehow I still won.”
More than just a day of fun, for many hopefuls, the pageant may be the first step toward a direction of pursuing modeling or acting.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with how well everything went,” said Pamela Young of The Young Agency. “The Wrigley Mansion served as another venue for exposure to display talent and also build self-esteem.”
The Arizona Cutest Kids Contest will be the next big event in the area, set to take place in February 2008. For more information on upcoming events, visit www.TheYoungAgency.com.