DOWNEY - Following a time-tested script that goes back to 1955 when the Miss Downey Pageant was first staged, the Downey Rose Float Association Saturday crowned 17-year old Ashley Campuzano as Miss Downey, 15-year old Lauren Gardner as Miss Teen Downey, and 11-year old Miranda White as, new this year, Junior Miss Downey.All three attend Downey Unified School District schools, both Campuzano and Gardner at Downey High, and White at West Middle School. Ashley is not new to the limelight; she served previously as the 2007 Miss Teen Downey. To share duties for one year as ambassadors of good will for sponsoring organization Downey Rose Float Association and the city of Downey are the incoming members of their courts. This year's four Miss Downey court princesses are Warren High's Nicole Nelson (age 16), Cypress College's Felicia Gonzalez (18), Downey High's Tarra Swoboda (17), and St. Joseph High's Jancy Montoya (17). There are three Miss Teen Downey court princesses, all ages 15 and all from Downey High: Sol Ochoa, Jessica Shaffer, and Genesis Montoya. Two other 11-year olds, Mikayla Minnig from Trinity Christian and Molly Donahue from Griffiths Middle, are the princesses of this year's newly-established Junior Miss Downey court. They will take part in tomorrow's Arc Walk for Independence, their first official public act. Their chaperone this year is Soroptimist International of Downey president Patty Kotze. The winners were chosen from a whittled-down field of 60 contestants, grouped in three age categories: Miss Downey contestants (ages 16-23) numbered 24 hopefuls:15 girls competed in the Miss Teen Downey category (ages 13-15): and 21 girls (ages 10-12) vied for Junior Miss Downey. The pageant is open to "anyone who lives, works, or goes to school in Downey." Diana Ly was voted Miss Congeniality. Awards were given in other categories, with a few young ladies emerging as multiple winners in their age groups. Campuzano, the new Miss Downey, was the big winner in the Miss Downey bracket: additionally voted Miss Downey Businesswoman, she won first in Miss Downey Essay, and won the Miss Evening Gown competition as well. Another big-winner Miss Downey contestant, Jessica Aguirre, was voted Fan Favorite, a new category this year voted on by fans online. She also won the Miss Entrepreneur trophy, was Miss Volunteer, and placed second in Miss Downey Essay. Jessica Shaffer, this year's Miss Teen Downey, garnered Miss Teen Volunteer, Miss Teen Talent, and Miss Teen Sportswear titles as well. Junior Miss titlist Miranda White was voted Miss Photogenic in that category, took second place in Talent (first place went to East Middle School's Priscilla Rolon), and also took the Evening Gown title. Molly Donahue, a high-achieving Junior Miss princess, won titles in her Academic, Sportswear, and Businesswear categories as well. Miss Teen Princess Genesis Montoya also won the Miss Teen Businesswear contest and placed second in Miss Teen Talent. Warren High's Lilly Acosta was voted Miss Photogenic and placed third in Miss Downey Talent. Others with two titles each: Miss Downey court princesses Nicole Nelson, who also took third place in Miss Downey Essay, and Yancy Montoya, who also won Miss Downey Sportswear; Miss Teen Downey, Lauren Gardner, who also won Miss Teen Evening Gown; and Griffiths' Whitney Pemberton was voted Miss Teen Athletic and took third in Miss Teen Talent; and Junior Miss Downey Mikayla Minnig also was first prize winner of the Junior Miss Essay. Other titleholders: Warren High's Yesenia Arizmendi, Miss Teen Photogenic; Briana Martin, Junior Miss Athletic, and Warren High's Blanca Martinez, Miss Athletic; East Middle School's Cori Hayes, Miss Teen Academic, and Biola University's Alyssa Rico, Miss Academic; Griffiths' Kennedy Gonzales, Junior Miss Volunteer; Cristina Gomez (Most Improved Junior Miss), Sussman Middle School's Angel Gonzales (Most Improved Teen); and Warren High's Martha Calderon (Most Improved Miss); Rio Hondo's Valerie Aguilar, first in Junior Miss Talent; Downey High's Tatiana Leiva, first in Miss Talent and Downey High's Ali Zaborski, second in Miss Talent; Natalie Madrigal, second in Junior Miss Essay and Downey Christian's Sara DeMoss, third in Junior Miss Essay; Downey High's Miranda Trujillo, second in Miss Teen Essay and Warren High's Sara Seja, third in Miss Teen Essay. Judging was based on earlier interactions with the contestants (field trips, various shared activities/projects) and interviews, fully show-cased, wonderfully-mounted competitions in the above categories, and, at the end, an onstage question ("What is your favorite day?", "What would you do if you could do something and not fail?", etc.). Luminaries from various fields dotted the 17-odd-member panel of judges and included a former Miss Seal Beach and other pageant enthusiasts, TV's Ernest Thomas, and a native of Sherwood Forest, all friends and supporters of the Miss Downey Pageant, one of the major fundraisers of the Downey Rose Float Association (DRFA). Judges representing Downey itself included State Farm's (and Rotarian) Patricia Megallon, Trilogy Financial Services' and Downey Chamber of Commerce's (and Rotarian) George Zoumberakis, and the city of Downey's Juddy Ceniceros. Doing major duty again as the evening's master of ceremonies was pageant veteran Rick Porcaro, an "advisor" to the entertainment industry who has become a familiar and popular figure in local events such as this one, whose theme this year was "Get Your Groove On." Pageant director was the city of Downey's Susan Domen, who last year assumed the mantle of president of the Downey Rose Float Association. DRFA's 2010 Rose Float entry earlier won the Pasadena Rose Parade Founder's Trophy. Her message to all the contestants: "Remember to enjoy every experience you have and live every day to the fullest."
********** Published: March 26, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 49