Muhammad Ali once said, “A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he'll never crow….I have seen the light and I'm crowing.” Like the rooster that crows in the light, the 2015 Ms. Sweethearts Pageant brings forth a joyful sound that foreshadows Spring, and all the wonderful things intrinsic in it.
The Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant will take place on Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 10 AM SLT. Established in August 2010, the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant, according to organizer and owner Shannon Bramlington, was started as a way to display the beauty of the female guests that frequent the Sweetheart’s Jazz Club. The winner of this pageant not only wins a prize of $100,00L, they also win the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant crown, as well as a generous array of designer gowns from SL’s most prestigious designers. Bramlington asserts, “The Ms. Sweethearts Pageant is a search for the Sweetest of Hearts in Second Life. We do look at beauty but the emphasis is on class and grace, intelligence and the ability to represent Sweethearts as a romantic venue.”
Dolly Warden and LADYROSECHERRY SERENITY: The Finalists That Keep Moving Forward
In keeping with the Pageant’s search for the Sweetest of Hearts, there are five finalists that will compete for the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant Title. One of those finalist is Dolly Warden. Though Warden is still recovering from the Real Life loss of her father, she continues to dedicate herself to the pageant in his honor. Warden explains: “I am a very hard worker….a good leader who learns and leads by example. I am very genuine with how I love Sweethearts, and how I feel about being the best representative for Sweethearts that I can be. Most of all, I am not a quitter. My father just passed away, we buried him yesterday; and although I had to miss some things, I didn't let it stop me. It is a positive thing that has helped me deal with the bad at this moment.” Like her Father, Warden is a US Veteran, and is deeply committed to family and long lasting friendships. Warden contends that she “….was lucky and honored to have such a great dad. The funeral was beautiful with full military honors...”
What is amazing about Dolly Warden is not only her willingness to share this information with the SL Enquirer, but her willful determination to continue her participation in the 2015 Ms. Sweethearts Pageant despite the loss of her father. Warden reiterates her determination by saying, “I like to think my father would be glad I didn't give up. He knew I was in the pageant and was proud of me… all I can do now is honor him in every way I can [because] good parents are the best blessing we can have.”
Warden’s persistence to stay in the pageant—despite the loss of her father—is commendable, and mirrors the strong work ethic present in all the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant Finalists. In fact, their work ethic is so strong, that not even the Boston Blizzard of 2015 could stop them from competing.
Rosie O’Grady, better known as LADYROSECHERRY SERENITY, epitomizes this claim. Born and raised in Boston in real life, Serenity’s endurance is currently being tested in the midst of a blizzard so intense, that it has paralyzed major roads and completely submerged cars in over 65 feet of snow. Serenity says, “…we are having lots of blizzards here, [with] so much snow you can make an igloo…and [to top it off], I have to shovel it. I am sick of looking at the weather at this point….”
Yet despite being tired of the horrid Boston weather, Serenity’s dream is to be the best model in Second Life. “[I believe that it is important] to never give up and be the best that you can be. None of us [are] perfect.”
Both LADYROSECHERRY SERENITY and Dolly Warden enjoy meeting new people in their SL time, as well as love being creative in many different ways. Warden explains, “I really enjoy the fashion aspect of SL. This pageant gives me an opportunity to have even more fun with fashion as well.”
LADYROSECHERRY SERENITY echoes Warden’s sentiment, but adds, “I enjoy helping newbies and people in general [in both Real Life and in Second Life].
Ms. Sweetheart Pageant Finalists and the Friends They Have
Gwennie Oldrich chuckles as she recalls her motivation for entering into the pageant. “Honestly, my best friend and I were joking around about how the pageant needed an underdog who could add a fresh, new approach to being Ms. Sweetheart's, so finally I decided why not and put in my application. Though once I was accepted as a hopeful, I actually got serious and tried to be what I thought a good Ms. Sweetheart’s [contestant] would be.”
When asked if she had expected to become a finalist, Oldrich says, “Never in a million years. I figured I’d get in the top 10 but never expected to end up in the top 5. [In fact,] I was completely speechless….”
Like Oldrich, BroadwayGirl1 Resident did not expect to become a finalist either. “When I found out that I was a finalist, I was so happy that I was in RL crying, and was telling my family and friends on here [about my becoming a finalist].
BroadwayGirl1 also relied on the support of her friends to aid in her motivation to enter the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant, just like Oldrich did. BroadwayGirl1 explains, “I was curious about what it would be like to be in a pageant. I never did pageants in RL or here. Also, with the urging and support of my friends, I feel like they would support me throughout the pageant and would support me no matter what happens…”
Since neither BroadwayGirl1 nor Oldrich had ever participated in pageants prior, they both feel like they can bring a fresh perspective to the Ms. Sweetheart’s competition. One of these fresh perspectives includes SL hobbies; Oldrich loves playing SL Games, as well as routinely being around her friends. “[In fact, I love] hanging around [and] chatting with my friends at home and at Sweethearts.” She continues, “[I also love] playing Greedy, raising KittyCats and participating in 7 seas fishing tournaments at our Tiny Empires Kingdom every chance I get.”
In contrast, BroadwayGirl1 demonstrates a fresh perspective by describing her favorite SL hobby of all: hanging out at the Sweetheart’s Club. “I love going to Sweethearts. It has been my home since I started SL and it is the only club that I go to. I love dancing on the dance pads with my friend and socializ[ing] with them. I love going to Sweethearts and danc[ing] with my fiancé there as well.”
While both ladies have friends in and outside Sweetheart’s, they have also successfully made friends with the other finalists involved in the pageant. Oldrich says, “I was friends with one of [the pageant finalists] before, and have chatted a lot with another one since joining the pageant. And yes, once we’re not all so busy, I can see [the creation of long lasting friendships with the pageant participants] being a possibility.” In keeping with this comradery of friendship, BroadwayGirl1 offers the following words of advice to all the finalists: “…just be yourself and treat others the way you would want to be treated; treat others the way that they would like to be treated, not only during the pageant, but also through their journey in sl.”
Finalist BELLAROSE and Organizer Shannon Bramlington: Rising Up To the Challenge
Besides the comradery of friendship, another interesting thing about the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant finalists is their ability to rise up to the Pageant’s competitiveness. While it is one thing to rise up to this challenge once, it is another thing entirely to rise up to the challenge a second time around. BELLAROSE does this with ease, moreso because she was in the Ms. Sweetheart’s pageant last year, and came in third place. She says, “I love the elegance and beauty of the pageant, and [have] always wanted to participate in one!”
Organizer Shannon Bramlington reiterates this sentiment by describing how the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant is not solely about beauty, it’s about looking for the winner that embodies grace, elegance, intelligence, maturity, and poise. “As the pageant creator,” Bramlington contends that “…it's given me the freedom to invent new ways to challenge the ladies, to push the pageant world out of its normal pretty box into a search for the total package...” Bramlington continues, “I love watching what I see in my head come to life on the runway…as the ladies walk by, I am so proud of them and the journey the have been on for months…”
This pride could not be vividly affirmed enough than when BELLAROSE found out she had become a finalist for the second time. “I was ecstatic, proud and very happy,” she explains. “[In fact] I am looking forward to the final competition [because] I love the challenge and exhilaration of the contest.”
Like the other finalists involved in the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant, BELLAROSE has also received more than the finalist title. “I have received many exquisite and beautiful gowns by the fabulous designer, MARIANELA. The owners, Shannon and Blake Hambleton, offered a free education in modeling at REGAL ACADEMY, which teaches an assortment of professional modeling and presentation skills, ones that are vital for anyone who aspires to be a model.”
The recent addition of the Regal Academy to the finalists’ winnings is one of many improvements implemented by Shannon Bramlington. She also contends that the Ms. Sweetheart’s Pageant has added, in the past few years, the runway aspect to their competition. “We hope to grow the pageant even bigger every year [because] it’s come a long way since being a photo contest.”
Besides aiming for the successful growth of the pageant, Bramlington is also very interested in making sure the sole winner of the Pageant is heavily involved in giving back to the SL community. Bramlington reiterates, “The Ms. Sweethearts Winner is highly involved in our charity events for Alzheimer Dementia, as well as for Creations for Parkinson's. We also donate anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 linden to each charity from the profits of the pageant.”
As impressive as these numbers are, it is even more impressive of how each finalist embodies this sentiment. BELLAROSE states that as a finalist, it is important to “….be true to your intention, and to do so, one must be true to one’s self. If you are going to compete for the star at the top, you must stay the path and never give up.
BELLAROSE continues: “Second, one must realize that no person is an island. To be at the head of that community, we must truly represent that community by being a part of it. To be a part of it, we must practice the basic virtues of giving, helping, and being kind and caring to others. Why? Because without these simple virtues we cannot lead, nor can we represent…”