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Contestants flocking to event

This weekend the Camellia City will play host to nearly twenty young women from across the state. They will be setting their sights on $1,000 in scholarship monies and the lovely crown that come with winning the title of Miss Greater Greenville.

The program, entering its second year, is an official preliminary to the Miss Alabama/Miss America Scholarship Program.

Take note of the fact the emphasis is scholarship, not beauty.

&uot;No, Miss Greater Greenville is not a beauty pageant,&uot; says Sue Arnold, director of the Miss Greater Greenville Scholarship Board. &uot;These young women work very hard and they have to have a lot more than just good looks going for them – they have to have brains, talent, concern for the community and plenty of determination. The judges are looking for that well-rounded individual,&uot; says Arnold.

A panel of expert evaluators will journey to the Camellia City this weekend to judge the young women during swimsuit, talent and evening gown competitions on stage Saturday night.

Individual interviews with the participants conducted on Saturday morning will also count as part of the evaluation process.

This private interview, during which the the participant’s personality, self-confidence and communication skills are evaluated as she shares her own community achievement experiences, counts for a full 40 percent of the panel scoring.

Plenty of preparation

Much work is involved before the participants ever take the stage.

The Miss Greater Greenville Scholarship Board has been very busy in recent days making preparations for parties, contestant meals, programs and Saturday night’s gala production in a countdown to the second annual Miss Greater Greenville production.

Competition for Miss Greater Greenville 2005 is set to kick off at Greenville’s Ritz Theatre at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, January 22.

Ralph Stacy will serve as the emcee for the evening, ably assisted by Melinda Toole, outgoing Miss Greater Greenville 2004 (and the reigning Miss Trussville 2005).

Toole, a gifted vocalist, will also be performing several songs as part of the evening’s entertainment. &uot;It’s always a treat to hear Melinda – she has a beautiful voice,&uot; says Sue Arnold of the Miss Greater Greenville Scholarship Board.

Come Saturday night, the Miss Greater Greenville participants will be &uot;putting on the Ritz&uot; at the Ritz. This year’s program is &uot;A Black Tie Affair&uot; – a theme that blends the romance of the music of &uot;Old Blue Eyes&uot; himself, Frank Sinatra, with the sophistication of top hats and canes.

Community support in place

&uot;The board members have been working very hard getting ready for the arrival of the girls, who are due in Greenville this Friday at 5 p.m. Needless to say, we all are really excited about this weekend,&uot; says Arnold. According to Arnold, the community has been very supportive of the board’s efforts.

&uot;We appreciate all those who are helping us prepare for the weekend. We could not do it without their help. We have several local businesses that are also getting ready for the girls’ arrival. They will be preparing meals for the contestants and the judges, along with providing gifts for the girls,&uot; she explains.

Arnold wants to remind readers Miss Greater Greenville is an outstanding publicity opportunity for the city.

&uot;We have these young women and their family members coming into town from all over the state for the weekend. They are being entertained in people’s homes, staying in local hotels and eating in local restaurants. They will leave here, go back home and tell others about Greenville and what a wonderful, hospitable little town it is. That is great publicity for our city.&uot;

At the same time, Arnold emphasizes, the young woman chosen the new Miss Greater Greenville will be representing the city in the coming year. &uot;Each time she walks out on stage at the state program, our city’s name will be heard. Each time Miss Greater Greenville shares her community service platform, she will be doing so in her capacity as our city’s representative…that’s a very positive thing. Melinda did a wonderful job for us and I am sure the new Miss Greater Greenville will be just as outstanding,&uot; says Arnold.

A host of gifts

In addition to her official Preliminary Winner’s Crown and $1,000 scholarship, this year’s Miss Greater Greenville will receive the Queen’s flowers courtesy of Elizabeth Wilson Florist, along with &uot;a host of gifts&uot; from local merchants. First runner-up will receive a $200 scholarship, an engraved Miss America commemorative tray, and an arm bouquet courtesy of Camellia City Florist. The second runner-up will take home a $100 scholarship, an engraved pewter tray, and an arm bouquet from Camellia City Florist. Third runner-up will be awarded an engraved pewter tray and an arm bouquet from Camellia City Florist.

&uot;In addition, the individual lifestyle and fitness (swimsuit) and artistic expression (talent) winners will each receive a pageant trophy from Championship Trophy,&uot; says Arnold.

A weekend at the Ritz

An orientation for participants is slated for the Ritz Theatre early Friday evening after their arrival. Saturday’s interviews and lunch will also be held at the city’s Art Deco gem, as will the Queen’s Reception on Saturday evening, following the program.

&uot;Basically, every facet of our pageant this year will be held at the Ritz this year,&uot; says Arnold.

This fact is one Roberta Gamble of the Greenville Area Arts Council, the group responsible for much of the old movie house’s restoration, gladly applauds. &uot;We are always happy when the spotlight can shine on our dear Ritz, and we can show it off to visitors from other areas,&uot; Gamble says. Members of the Miss Greater Greenville Scholarship Board include Executive Board Members Sue Arnold, director; Joan Reynolds, director of business and program chairman; Jana Ealum, treasurer and contestant auditor; Jane Bates, director of judges and Jill Stallworth, director of development and hospitality. Other board members are Jennifer Burkett, director of production; Julie Autrey, director of advertising; Ellen Burkett, director of honorariums; Carol Walters, artistic director; Kathy Sims and Mary Braden, ticket sales and house directors; Jan Newton and Dale Brannon, hospitality committee and Leslie Arnold, Ashley Norman, Rebecca Richards and Kay Scruggs, production staff.

Tickets for Saturday night’s program are $5 each and will be on sale at the door. For more information, contact Sue Arnold at 382-9061 or 382-2647.