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.”
Miss Arlington Wins Miss Virginia Pageant — Desiree Williams, this year’s Miss Arlington, has captured the crown of Miss Virginia. The Newport News native and Hampton University graduate will compete for Miss America 2014 in September in Atlantic City. Williams performed Cubana Cubana on the piano for her talent and won support with her “Fit and Fun” platform. [Roanoke Times]
Deputy Accused of Murder Denied Bail — Arlington sheriff’s deputy Craig Patterson, accused of murder in the May 22 shooting of Alexandria resident Julian Dawkins, has been denied bail. He’s due back in court on Aug. 6. [WJLA]
Guilty Plea in Smash-and-Grab Robberies — Floyd Davis, 43, of Washington, D.C. pled guilty Tuesday to a role in the smash-and-grab robberies of several high-end retail stores in the D.C. area, including the March Tourneau robbery at Pentagon City mall that cost the store $600,000 worth of merchandise. Davis admitted in Alexandria federal court to scouting the store to see where security guards and patrons were positioned, but said he didn’t break glass or steal merchandise. [Washington Post]
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.