Young ladies vying for the title of Little Miss Westie have a chance to be a part of the competition each spring and help out West Haven High School programs at the same time.
Local girls, from babies to eighth grade, are invited to participate in the annual Little Miss Westie Pageant in the West Haven High School auditorium.
The West Haven tradition typically draws about 40 participants each year, according to organizer Dana Martinez, who is also a WHHS assistant principal.
“For most of our girls, it’s the only pageant they do. They’re not kids in competitive pageants, so for them, it’s just exciting to be on stage and under lights and to walk around in their crowns and sashes,” Martinez said. “It’s a fun pageant. There’s no pressure or craziness or expense that other pageants have.”
Martinez came up with the idea to hold a pageant several years ago when fundraising ideas were needed for Project Graduation “Blue & White . . . Up All Night,” a post-graduation celebration provided for free to WHHS graduates in June. The pageant immediately earned a following and continues fundraising for Project Graduation and the WHHS PACE program each year.
The pageant names an overall supreme winner, who gets a $100 cash prize, and then chooses champions for each age category: in the category for babies through 3-year-olds, it’s Mini Miss Westie; for girls aged 4-6, it’s Jr. Miss Westie; for girls aged 7-9, it’s Petite Miss Westie; and for girls aged 10-12, it’s Lil’ Miss Westie. There are also runners-up and superlatives. Each girl receives an award, Martinez said.
A panel of judges typically includes those from the local pageant world, West Haven teachers and paraprofessionals, and coaches from the West Haven Pop Warner Seahawks cheerleading team.
An additional award is the title of Sean’s Angel. Photos of each contestant are displayed near donation buckets in the WHHS lobby, with all donations going to a scholarship for a WHHS senior in the name of hometown soldier Sean Pesce, who was injured in Afghanistan on a tour of duty. The girl whose donation bucket receives the most donations is named Sean’s Angel and receives military-style dog tags with the title.
The pageant itself has multiple rounds, which include a dress-up portion, an interview for girls 4 years old and up, a “glitz and glitter” session that encourages girls to wear something that shows their personality, and an optional talent portion.
Prizes include tiaras, sashes, trophies, cash and a spot in the city’s Memorial Day Parade. The entrance fee is $40 and includes a T-shirt. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
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