Briana Hanafin had never been in a pageant before entering the Miss Arlington 2014 contest last December, but that didn’t stop her from winning the sash, tiara and entrance into this year’s Miss Virginia pageant.
The 24-year-old Arlington native graduated from Yorktown High School and works as an I.T. consultant for Accenture. She tells ARLnow.com that she entered the pageant because all of her time in high school and college — she attended Baylor University in Texas before transferring and graduating from the University of Maryland — was devoted to playing softball.
“It was just on my bucket list of things to do, because all of my weekends in school were going to softball games and tournaments,” Hanafin said. “You have to be 24 or younger to compete, so there’s a time limit.”
She “didn’t do much training” for Miss Arlington, but, since being crowned, that’s completely changed. The Miss Arlington team has taken over her preparation, paying for a personal trainer three times a week and even sending her to Dallas, Texas, to shop for dresses, admitting ”I have never done this much shopping in my life.”
Despite being a novice the pageant world, it wouldn’t be a shock if she performs well at the Miss Virginia pageant from June 26-28 in Roanoke. Miss Arlington 2009, Caressa Cameron, was crowned Miss America 2010. Last year’s Miss Arlington, Desiree Williams, won the state pageant, as did 2010 Miss Arlington winner Caitlin Uze.
“I had no idea how big of a reputation [Miss Arlington] had,” she said. “They know how to prepare the girls, which makes me feel good, but this is a lot of pressure. All the previous Miss Arlingtons have been so nice. I even got a Facebook message after I won saying ‘welcome to the best sorority ever.’”
The former shortstop sang Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri for her talent, but she can’t reveal what song she plans to sing for Miss Virginia. She’s listed as the last contestant out of 26 who will be competing in the pageant.
Miss Virginia becomes a spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals, and Hanafin has been giving talks for months about her social platform, global education, which was inspired by a month she spent in college teaching students in Africa.
It will be difficult for Hanafin to draw on her experience from December’s pageant: she said she was on stage for only a couple of minutes, and it was such a whirlwind that “it’s almost like I blacked out.” Her biggest memory: the surprisingly lengthy process of pinning the tiara to her hair, which took nearly a dozen hair clips. She said she was sure it was going to fall off.
It’s been a long six months between the Miss Arlington and Miss Virginia pageants, but she’s hoping this time around, she remembers the experience. No matter what, she’s enjoying the ride.
“I’ve gotten to be an ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network, and I got to meet the current Miss America, which was kind of unreal. I met her, and I was like ‘I want your job,’” she said. She’s still getting used to the public appearances, however. “I still feel like my crown’s going to fall off.”
An Arlington resident is in the running to become the next Miss USA.
Shannon McAnally, who lives in Courthouse, is the reigning Miss Virginia USA and will compete for the national title live on NBC on Sunday, June 16.
Though she will be representing Virginia, McAnnally is actually a native Texan. She moved to Arlington just over a year ago to help her family expand its construction business to Virginia.
The company, MCC and Associates, specializes in restaurant construction and renovation. McAnally is the company’s marketing director and a licensed contractor — the latter being an exceedingly rare accreditation for a young beauty pageant contestant.
“It is very unique… I don’t know many women my age who are involved in the commercial construction industry,” she said. McAnally noted, however, that the Miss USA pageant has featured women who are attorneys and doctors.
“That’s one of the misconceptions you find in beauty pageants, is that you think it’s just about being a pretty face, when it has more to due with the substance of a person,” she said. She said her involvement in pageants started as a fun hobby, but grew into a serious goal and drive to become Miss USA.
McAnally said she picked Arlington and the Courthouse neighborhood as her home above every other locality in Virginia because of the county’s urban amenities, which for made an easier transition from her hometown of Dallas.
“Everything is so convenient,” she said. “You can walk to restaurants and stores, it’s just a perfect area to live in.”
McAnally says she’s an appreciator of museums, dining out, shopping, and music. Her favorite shopping destinations are Georgetown and Tysons Corner, but she can often be spotted at the Courthouse farmers market on Saturday mornings, or two favorite Clarendon food destinations: Whole Foods and Circa restaurant.
Just don’t expect to see her out much between now and June 16. McAnally says she’s been busy training for the pageant, working with walking coaches, interview coaches and other advisers. A vegetarian, McAnally has also been eating extra healthy and “exercising like crazy,” so she can be in top shape for the swimsuit competition.
If you do see McAnally out and about, it may be as she tours the Commonwealth in her role as Miss Virginia USA. She has been able to crisscross the state in style, thanks to the silver 2013 Mercedes Benz C250 that she received as part of her statewide pageant win this past November.
The hour-long military pageants feature soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (the Old Guard) and the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own.” While the pageant takes place, neighbors near Ft. Myer may hear singing, music and blank cannon fire.
All performances are free and open to the public. Tonight’s performance is held at Summerall Field on Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. Pre-ceremony pageantry begins at 6:45 p.m., and the ceremony begins at 7:00 p.m.
The full list of dates and exact locations on the base can be found online.
Third time was a charm for 22-year-old Arlington native Caitlin Uze. The Washigton-Lee High School grad and James Madison University senior was crowned Miss Virginia on Saturday, after two prior attempts at the title.
Uze, who was competing as Miss Greater Richmond (local residency is not required to compete in regional pageants), will receive $17,000 in scholarship money and free rent for a year. She will compete for the Miss America crown next year.
Caressa Cameron, the 2009 Miss Arlington winner who went on to win Miss Virginia and then Miss America, was on hand for the pageant, which was held in Roanoke.
Uze is studying social work and family studies at JMU and graduated in the top 20% of her Washington-Lee class, according to a personal website. Her hobbies include Irish dance, photography and reading.
She “showed poise” when asked about the Gulf oil spill during the interview portion of the pageant, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Photo via web.
It could have been the lack of advance notice. Or the low foot traffic around the somewhat unusual choice of venue. Or could it be that in the reality show age of the shrill and the controversy-addicted, where the racier Miss USA pageant seems to get all the headlines, that the wholesome Miss America institution is losing a bit of cultural relevance?
Either way, there were remarkably few people queuing up to see the woman who represented their hometown and their home state while capturing what is still one of the most prestigious and recognizable titles in American life.
Caressa Cameron, the reigning Miss America and the former Miss Arlington and Miss Virginia, signed autographs and took photos with fans at the DSW Shoe Warehouse In Pentagon City for three hours Tuesday night. The stream of fans was slow but steady. Only occasionally did a line form.
One could argue that the Miss Arlington title itself isn’t really the draw one might think it would be, since the contest actually draws young women from around the state, not just from within the county. And it could also be said that with everything else that goes on in Arlington, beauty pageants may not be high on most people’s priority list.
Nonetheless, Cameron’s “homecoming” (she’s actually from Fredericksburg, Va.) was a decidedly low-key affair. But that didn’t seem to faze someone who has made a career out of poise and grace.
“This is the first time I’ve been back in Arlington since winning,” she noted enthusiastically, saying it was exciting to see members of the local pageant board again. Familiar faces seems to be in short supply in the life of Miss America.
“I travel every 36 hours, about 20,000 miles a month,” Cameron gushed. “I’m up, most of the time, before 4:30. I have interviews in the morning, I go to children’s hospitals during the day, I do fundraising events at night. I do sponsored events like this with DSW to meet the American public and to get the Miss America brand out there. So it’s a busy life. I just got back from Germany where I was able to visit the troops there — some of our wounded warriors at Landstuhl. I have a wonderful, wonderful job and I enjoy it.”
After her reign is completed, Cameron hopes to move back to Virginia and become a news anchor in the D.C. area.
“I don’t want to leave Virginia, I’m such a Virginia girl. Working in the Arlington-D.C. market would be absolutely perfect. So hopefully there’s a home for me when I’m done,” she said.
One person who came out to see Cameron was Lindsay Morris, who in December succeeded Cameron as Miss Arlington. The James Madison University student said one of her reasons for making the drive up with her parents was to seek inspiration.
Reigning Miss America Caressa Cameron will be returning to Arlington tonight for an appearance in Pentagon City. Cameron, who won the Miss Arlington pageant before being crowned Miss Virginia last year, is technically from Fredericksburg, but we’ll call this a “homecoming” regardless.
Cameron will be appearing at the DSW Shoe Warehouse (1301 South Joyce Street) at Pentagon Row from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Customers will be able to meet Cameron, take a photo with her and get her autograph.
The store will be offering 15 percent off regularly-priced merchandise during the event and $100 gift cards will be raffled every half hour.
DSW sponsors the Miss America pageant.
Photo from missamerica.org.
Caressa Cameron, who was crowned Miss Arlington 2009 and then Miss Virginia 2009, was crowned Miss America 2010 on Saturday’s nationally-televised pageant. Cameron, a Fredericksburg, Va. native, wins a $50,000 and will now embark on a national publicity tour.
Cameron’s first appearance was on Live! with Regis and Kelly this morning. She will appear on entertainment show EXTRA tonight. The show airs locally at 2:00 AM on ABC 7 (WJLA).
Although Cameron’s media duties will keep her in New York for now, expect a homecoming for the beauty queen no later than April. Traditionally, Miss America winners participate in the National Cherry Blossom Festival parade.