Kimberly Kirby claims 2006 Miss Greater Greenville

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

There were no white ties and tails, but sparkling top hats abounded on stage at the Ritz Saturday night, as 17 young women from across Alabama introduced themselves to the Greenville audience.

It was &#8220live on stage at the Ritz” as these hopefuls vied for the crown and title of Miss Greater Greenville in an official preliminary to the Miss Alabama/Miss America Scholarship Program.

It was Hueytown's Kimberly Kirby, a willowy brunette with an infectious dimpled smile, who took top honors.

Kirby gave a powerful vocal performance of the theme song to &#8220Man of La Mancha” during the talent competition.

Third runner-up was Dayna Schaumann of Mobile, who performed an aria from Puccini's opera &#8220Madame Butterfly.” Second runner-up, Jessica Andrew of Jacksonville, energetically jazz-danced her way to &#8220Feelin' Good.”

Courtney Porter of Pinson was chosen as first runner-up. Winner of the Talent Award, Porter performed an impressive tap dance routine to &#8220Dr. Jazz.” Andrews and Kirby tied for the Swimsuit Award.

The contestants were judged in five categories that evening: swimsuit, casual wear, talent, evening wear and on-stage question. Private interviews with each girl were held earlier in the day.

The talent competition was particularly tough. Former Miss Greater Greenville and the current Miss Samford, Melinda Toole confided, &#8220I'd hate to go up against this group of girls.”

Master of Ceremonies Ralph Stacy provided clever segue ways into the vintage songs serving as background music for the competitions, declaring the 17 lovely ladies all &#8220must have been beautiful babies” to kick off the evening's swimsuit competition.

Stacy pointed out the pony-tailed girls in sorority t-shirts and jeans who rehearsed on stage Saturday afternoon were somehow magically replaced by stunning young women in elegant designer gowns Saturday night.

Alluding to the fact Miss Alabama 2005, Deirdre Downs, went on to become Miss America, Stacy said,

&#8220I truly believe here tonight on this stage you just may see a future Miss America.”

Entertainment was offered by Miss Greater Greenville 2005, Christen Clarke, who performed the wistful Judy Garland classic, &#8220Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

The Senior Dance Team of Sonya's Dance Studio gave three high-energy, crow-pleasing performances, dancing to &#8220Steppin' Out” along with 70s-era hits &#8220Car Wash” and &#8220Fly, Robin, Fly.”

&#8220This is terrific,” Harry Manning, official videographer for the evening, said during an intermission. &#8220Those contestants have some great talents. And (the performance by Sonya's students) was just the icing on the cake.”

Clarke, who had been honored at a reception Saturday night at the home of Jill and Steve Stallworth, appeared to fight back tears as she took her final walk as Miss Greater Greenville Saturday night.

In her taped farewell speech, Clarke spoke of how much she had enjoyed her time representing the Camellia City, performing at several events, riding in the Christmas parade and, especially, visiting with local school children to promote her platform on youth fitness.

Clarke described the women of the Miss GG Scholarship Board as &#8220hard-working and humble ladies” who had shown her the finest in southern hospitality.

That hospitality was evident at the Queen's Reception that followed the pageant. The Ritz Reception Room featured a lavish spread prepared by members of the Miss GG board. The buffet was graced in the center by an artful arrangement by floral designer Nancy Idland. The centerpiece featured camellias and apple blossom boughs, with sparkling jewelry, satin gloves and sequined pumps to add pizzazz.

On another table a bounty of gifts awaited the new Miss Greater Greenville.

In addition to her $1,000 college scholarship and crown, Kirby also received a winner's bouquet from Camellia City Florist, a colorful overnight tote from Grayson's of Greenville, a gift basket of cosmetics from Merle Norman Studio, a framed portrait from Cecil Folds Photography and a hand-painted frame from Ashley Thigpen.

She also took home a designer bead necklace and earrings from Brittney Ingalls, personalized notecards from Carmen's Creations, a one-year subscription to The Greenville Advocate, and gift certificates from WestPoint Stevens Outlet, Ansley Place, Perfect Persimmon, Two Boutiques and One to One Fitness.

&#8220I feel everything went wonderfully,” Sue Arnold, director for the Miss GG program, said during the reception.

&#8220We had a great group of lovely, talented girls and we look forward to a great year with Kimberly as our new Miss GG.”