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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 16, 2008

First time’s a charm
McKenzie Grant reigns as Miss Pre-Teen Albany

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDELRAND — McKenzie Grant is the new Miss Pre-Teen Albany. She won her first pageant and is headed to Orlando, Fla. for an all-expenses-paid trip to continue competing.

Grant is an 11-year-old sixth-grader at Farnsworth Middle School.

“I…didn’t think I would go that far with this pageant,” Grant said. “It was…shocking. I was really surprised, but really happy.”

The pageant was run by Nationals, Inc. Grant said that she and her mother had submitted their address to the clothing store The Limited, Too, and that the pageant contacted them through the mailing list.

“I got a letter in the mail. I really wanted to get into modeling. My mom thought it would be a…good experience for me,” Grant said.

Grant said that she is a member of a hip-hop dance competition team, and that she takes jazz and tap dancing lessons at World of Dance.

“I spend a lot of time at the dance studio,” she said. “At school, I am a straight-A student. I just got my report card, and I got A-plusses in all my subjects.”

Grant is in her first year of middle school, and enjoys the change from elementary school.

“You have to be really organized,” she said. “I love all my teachers. I like English and language arts.” Grant said that the middle school gives her more freedom than she had in elementary school.

“I love to be with my friends. I have a lot of friends,” she said.

The competition

 After being accepted into the pageant, Grant and the other pageant entrants were interviewed by a panel of judges on Sept. 5.

“They asked me questions about myself, and I answered them,” she said. She was asked about her pets and what school she attends, she said.

The following night at the pageant, Grant made it to the semi-finalist round, with 10 entrants per age level. She was asked where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world.

Grant chose Hawaii.

“It’s always summertime [there], and summer is my favorite season,” she said. She likes to swim in the ocean, she said. “I love to wear my tank top and flip-flops in the summertime,” she said.

Grant competed in casual- and formal-wear competitions. She said that she shopped at The Limited, Too for her casual wear, and that she chose a school-girl theme. She wore a plaid skirt, a button-down shirt with a tie, and a book bag filled with books.

Many competitors did not use a theme, but another girl who made it into the top 10 did.

“One girl did butterfly hunting,” Grant said. “She carried a net and wore rain boots.”

Grant said that there was not an entry fee for the pageant, but that she had to get between $200 and $500 in sponsorships. She said that she personally asked each sponsor for support. The average amount given per sponsor was $50, she said. Her sponsors included: Dott’s Garage; CoccaDott’s Cake Shop; New York Players Entertainment Group; Fifi’s Little Stars; orthodontists Decker, Sbuttoni, Boghosian, DiCerbo, and Lawless; the World of Dance; and several family members.

Grant did have to purchase her outfits and pay to have her formal wear fitted, she said.

“I’d like everybody that supported me to know that that was much appreciated,” she said. She also thanked them for “helping me through this pageant, because it was a lot of work.”

As part of the competition, Grant wrote a small letter to the judges about why she would be a good Miss Pre-Teen Albany. She also had to write letters to her sponsors, and do “a lot of shopping,” she said. During the four-hour rehearsal, the entrants learned how to walk and be interviewed, she said.

“It was a lot of training,” she said. “I think that the pageant was really fun, and I’d like to continue doing pageants.”

Grant will compete at the 2009 Cities of America National Pageant competition in Orlando. As the winner of her division, her expenses are covered. The runners-up in the Albany pageant will also attend the Florida pageant, but they will need sponsors, Grant said.

In addition to her trip, Grant won a three-foot trophy and a spa gift certificate.

“A lot of judges gave me prizes,” she said. She received a card for an acting class, and lotions and hair products, she said. Asked if she uses these products, she said, “I sometimes use lotions.”

Grant’s parents are Bill and Gina Grant. She has a 9-year-old brother, Benjamin, and a 23-year-old sister, Amber.

“I had a lot of fun in the pageant, and I think it was a great experience,” she said. “I’m looking forward to going to Florida.”

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