June 20, 2005 — Father's Day was celebrated as a family night Sunday in the seats at the Winston Wells Ballpark by close to 1,000 festival fans who came to witness the selection of a Fourth of July princess.
The judges chose a tiny 10-year-old who held her own against two tough competitors for the duration of the four-hour pageant.
By the time the final announcement was read, the selection of contestant number one, 10-year-old Khadijah Edward, was still not a sure thing in the minds of the audience.
The names of 10-year-old Anecia Ayala and 9-year-old Hannah Hendrington had been called over and over as winners of the lesser titles: most congenial, photogenic, most cooperative, best portrayal.
But almost at the last minute Edward heard her name being called as having won for best evening wear.
Then finally it came. Second runner-up, Anecia. Hannah, first runner-up. That's all Khadijah's friends and family had to hear. Before the mistress of ceremony could proclaim her new title, they ran from their seats and rushed the stage with joy.
After that, it was hard to see the winner because of her small stature. She was engulfed by huggers and kissers, surrounded by jubilant dancers letting their festival spirit out. And her two competitors were similarly swamped by admirers.
All that celebration didn't seem to phase Khadijah, who from the first introductory moments displayed a calm, well-spoken manner. By the time one reporter broke through the throng to capture her remarks, she appeared serene.
When asked how she felt, Khadijah said, "Fine." When asked about her wishes for the people of her festival kingdom, the princess said, "Have fun and enjoy yourselves."
The crowd seemed pleased by the judges' decision. At the end of four hours they had seen the contestants strut, pose, dance and perform as favorite cartoon characters. There was no talent segment in the 2005 Princess Selection Show, and there was no prince. There were, however, fathers and stepfathers who stepped into the footlights dressed in formal wear to escort their daughters onstage for the evening wear competition.
The princess pageant was the first of three scheduled competitions featured in this year's festival season. Next Saturday two contests are expected to be combined into one show, as the festival committee presents the St. John Queen Selection Show and the Junior Miss Competition.
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