This is the first time the Queen Pageant was presented on a Saturday night and the first time the new queen was selected by ballot by the audience, after the judges tallied the votes of the highest score.
Fifteen beautiful young Italian-American ladies between the ages of 18 and 23 competed. One of the contestants is studying for her master’s degree, indicating the high standards of the young women of today.
Alta Villa Banquets was the venue for this year’s pageant, upholding their high standards of cuisine and excellent service. The setting was perfect for the pageant with a lovely decorated banquet room with stage and runway to accommodate the production number, gown presentation, semi-finalist, finalist and finally the queen choice.
The day began with morning rehearsals for the production number choreographed by Marilyn Cusimano Fredericks. The costumes were flattering to all the girls’ figures in black trimmed with black sequins.
The guests were given ballots to be used at the end of the evening for their selection of the top three finalists who were selected by the judges’ scores of the production and gown segments of the pageant. Each guest had to sign for receipt of their ballot to eliminate any duplication.
The production number was the first opportunity for the judges to see the contestants and vote for their choice based on beauty, poise and personality. Each judge voted on a score of 1 to 10 on all three criteria, with 10 the highest.
There were five judges — Jacqueline Mazza, Iolanda Goodfellow, Shannon Lersch, Anthony Fiorentino and James Ceccotti — all from different walks of life, who were selected based on their backgrounds and connection to the arts and fashion. One of the judges, Miss Lersch, was a one-time Columbus Day Queen who went on to become Miss Illinois.
Two accountants, John and Lucia Loizzo, tallied the votes while dinner was served. Music throughout the pageant was ably provided by Frank Fratto of Non-Stop Entertainment. James Glimco and Mauro Glorioso were capable and enthusiastic co-chairmen.
The gown portion of the pageant was the next step. The girls were divided into two groups. Each girl introduced herself until all in the first group had made their introductions. An individual walk down the runway, as each girl’s bio was read by our very capable and professional master of ceremonies, Jessica Donofrio of ABC 7. Jessica herself was a contestant in our queen pageant a few years back.
The second group of contestants repeated the process of individual introduction and individual runway walk. The two groups participated in the final “Parade” of contestants so that the judges had one more opportunity to see the contestants before they voted for the semi-finalists.
The accountants then added the votes from the production and gown segment to tally the five highest scores, who were designated the semi-finalists.
The five semi-finalists were called to the stage. Each contestant selected a question from the “bowl,” which was then given to Jessica Donofrio to read. This procedure continued until all five had selected and answered the question. Each contestant took a final tour of the runway while Jessica read their bios.
Score sheets from the five judges were given to the accountants for the finalist selection. From the five semi-finalists, the top three contestants with the judges combined highest scores were selected as finalists.
The top three were called to the stage in numerical order. A final question was answered by one of the girls while the other two were sequestered so they couldn’t hear the first girl’s answer. This continues as each girl has her turn.
Votes were then gathered by the accountants from the audience and placed in a see-through ballot box. The final parade of all contestants followed as well as the final walk by 2010 Columbus Day Queen Iliana Incandela, who made us all proud during her reign.
The top three were called to the stage and the Queen, Bianca Scola, was crowned. Members of the Court are Elisa DeFeo Romanucci, Victoria Martello, Marisa Panzarino and Tessa Sassolino.
I had the pleasure of participating in the crowning of the queen along with JCCIA President Antonio M. Romanucci and Italian Consul General Alessandro Motta.