The Trail Ambassador Program is not a beauty pageant; it is the chance for young women to be role models in their community.
Friday night, in front of a full house at the Charles Bailey Theatre, those qualities were on full display.
Miss Trail Rotary, Aftin Jolly, received the honour of being Trail Ambassador 2011 and Miss Knights of Pythias, Megan McIntyre, had the double honour of receiving the titles of Trail Princess and Miss Congeniality.
“I was really surprised and overwhelmed but it was a great feeling because I didn’t expect it,” said Jolly during Sunday’s Family Fun Day at Gyro Park.
She admitted the thought of carrying the Trail Ambassador title hasn’t quite sunk in.
“I’m just waiting for that moment where it’s like, ‘Oh I’m Miss Trail.’ I mean I know it but it hasn’t hit yet.”
Friday night’s event wasn’t about competing against each other, but more about showing the community what they were most proud of accomplishing throughout the six-month Trail Ambassador Program.
“I am able to accept my flaws,” Jolly told the audience, adding she hopes to inspire other young women during the coming year.
Cassidy Favaro, the 2010 Trail Ambassador, placed the crown on an emotional Jolly capping off the six-month journey.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Favaro said.
“I didn’t know what to expect (when she was crowned). It isn’t about being crowned – it’s about confidence.”
Confidence was definitely the reoccurring theme throughout the evening.
Jolly introduced herself as always being a determined little girl and now she wanted to inspire others and make a difference in the community.
She demonstrated in broad range of talents by performing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet – in Spanish. In her speech she talked of her younger brother who at first was a great play toy and turned into an amazing friend.
The crowd roared when McIntyre walked to the stage. She said because of her shyness she had never pictured herself on stage, “but I stand in front of you, tonight”.
McIntyre displayed her artistic flair in hairstyles, modelled by young volunteers, for her talent.
Her speech “Contagious Beauty” talked about inner beauty and what really counts will never vanish.
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Miss Trail Legion, Abby Muskeyn, wanted to get out of her comfort zone and put on an amusing song and dance number. Her speech concerned the general public’s view on beauty and how as a child she was scared of the monster under her bed. Now, her monster was a mirror that was a “warping of vision.”
Miss Colombo Lodge, Jourdyne Mason, dedicated a strong, emotional dance performance to her number-one fan – her grandma. Her speech “Pair of Shoes” concerned the effects of bullying.
“We have a voice, so let’s use it,” she told the audience.
Miss Kiwanis, Morgan Albo, described the growing pains of being taller than her peers and decided to do something about it – she designed and displayed her own fashion line.
In her “Smile” speech she told the crowd to catch themselves when judging others – to stop and smile.
“Don’t waste time, take the time.”
Miss Trail Kinsmen, Ashley Hansen, said we’re unique in our own special ways and her love of media arts was displayed through a slide show.
“A photo may be worth a 1,000 words but transform a photo into a work of art and the value is priceless,” she said.
Her speech “True Friends” described her experiences in meeting new friends after moving from Castlegar to Trail.
While candidates agreed the program has given them confidence and a feeling of empowerment, it’s not often heard in unison.
Asked what the best part of the program was, each candidate listed off rehearsals, public speaking, training and confidence. Then there was laughter when they said in unison, “This will stick through (the) rest of (our) life.”
Michelle Epp, Trail Ambassador Program coordinator, said the program, which was revived in 2008, helps bring young women out of their shell.
“Today’s youth need, want and really enjoy doing it,” Epp said. “It’s the shy girls I see most change in and they’re the ones that I come back for – you see them gain so much confidence.”
Master of ceremonies Helen Bobbitt said she was feeling kinda girly from seeing the unbelievable bond.
“Feel the love for the candidates. This is about inner beauty, empowerment, all around great time where everyone is a winner,” said Bobbitt. “Young girls can see they can shine.”
Backstage, the young ladies were laughing and doing yoga breathing to calm their nerves. They even had calming words for the flower girls telling them it was a night to have fun.
Favaro was showing them techniques she had learned throughout the year that really helped.
Emily Ferraro, the 2010 Trail Princess, recommended the program to other youth because she changed into a better person.
“It gives you life skills and confidence to be around anyone and just be yourself,” Ferraro said. “And you get friendships that last a lifetime.”
Favaro and Ferraro’s final thoughts and photos were displayed on the screen as they did their walk through the audience.
Favaro, who received a $1,000 scholarship, said to smile as much as you can – it goes by quickly.
Ferraro, who received a $500 scholarship, talked about the magic of belonging to something that changes lives.
Trail Mayor, Dieter Boggs, told the candidates the Ambassador Program is an incredible experience that will be remembered for the rest of their lives.
“When we didn’t have the pageant,” said Boggs, “ we were really missing something,”
Royalty from across the province came out for the annual event; a couple sang praises about their community.
Jolly is eager to do the same about Trail during the coming year.
“I think it will be fun to spread the joy of Trail because I love this community so much and I have such a passion for it. I hope by me being an ambassador I’ll inspire other communities to come visit and help with tourism and promoting our area.”