McGarry proudly beamed as she held her bouquet, taking side-glances at her fellow honorees and friends.
Just before she was crowned Miss Patterson, the 17-year-old Modesto High senior said she was occupied with cheering on her friends, and was surprised by the judges’ decision.
“I was thinking how happy I was for the other girls,” said McGarry, a competition snow skier and soccer enthusiast. “We are all such good friends, and now we are all in the court together.”
Brooke Garro, 17, was named first runner-up, followed by second runner-up Rebecca Breasher, 17.
Mahalla Fagan, who was named Miss Congeniality, said it felt great to receive the honor from her peers.
“When I heard I named Miss Congeniality, I felt like I was going to cry,” Fagan said with a beaming smile.
The pageant was nothing short of elegant, thanks to additional stage alterations by Jennifer Gutierrez and Marci Dooley. The fence posts that line the back of the stage were covered with an apricot-colored fabric, adding an element of chic to the country stage. Locals packed around the manicured portion of the downtown circle with handmade signs and T-shirts to cheer on their favorite contestant, despite scorching temperatures reaching the 90s.
The girls, wearing green Apricot Fiesta T-shirts, kicked off the Miss Patterson pageant with an upbeat dance tempo choreographed to Chris Brown’s “Forever.”
After parading in swimwear to demonstrate fitness, poise and confidence, the finalists took a break before re-emerging in evening gowns to answer a question from emcee Pat Dooley about their hobbies and interests.
When asked about what she gained from joining Modesto High’s International Baccalaureate program, McGarry said she was taught commitment, work ethics and the importance of higher education.
“The International Baccalaureate program has helped in every aspect of my life,” she said.
Other candidates discussed their interests and life outside of school.
Finalist McKayla Becerra, 16, grew up in a family of six and said the experience has taught her patience, understanding and the importance of acknowledging feelings, which has allowed her to become a tough individual.
Later, Elena Gonzalez noted that she likes to direct productions for Patterson Repertory Theatre and the PHS drama program.
“Being involved in PRT has taught me to break out of my shell, and help others break out of their shells too,” Gonzalez said.
Miss Patterson pageant director Teresa Valentine said that the participants were supportive of one another during the interview process, and considered each of the 12 contestants worthy of the crown.
“Anyone of them could have taken it on any given night,” Valentine said. “Every girl did a fabulous job.”
Valentine said pageant organizers were looking for girls who were well rounded and able to represent the city of Patterson with dignity and pride. She was pleased by their dedication and hard work in supporting one another.
She thinks Miss Patterson’s role should be treated like a career position, with the judges acting as a hiring committee.
“These girls have taken the time to come out here and apply for a position,” Valentine said. “It is important for the judges to realize that they are not basing this contest on beauty. This role is like a job, and there are requirements. The judges must look for inner beauty on top of the contestants’ outer beauty.”
Twenty-eight girls applied to participate in this year’s pageant before a board of non-Patterson residents narrowed the competition down to 12 finalists.
The judges were then asked to rank finalists on a 100-point system with three distinct categories.
Forty percent of the score was based on how they conducted themselves during interviews at a wine-and-cheese event run by Preceptor Xi Phi sorority the previous week. Another 40 percent was based on the evening gown portion of Friday’s pageant, including poise, confidence and the way in which contestants handled an interview question with the judge. The final 20 percent was based upon poise, confidence and fitness shown during the swimwear portion of Friday’s program.
Just before last year’s court crowned the reigning winners, Miss Patterson 2012 Gracie Bradley congratulated each girl on her individual merits and dedication. She fondly remembered the time spent on that very stage as a candidate, and announced her joy in attending the University of California, Santa Barbara this fall.
“This past year is one I’ll never forget,” she said. “I only hope the next winner enjoys this as much as I have.”
Contact Brooke Borba at 892-6187, ext. 24, or email@example.com