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My Own “Little Miss Liberty”!!

Hello Everyone!  I wanted to take a break from my normal posts, and as a ridiculously proud parent, share some great news about my daughter, Annika.  On the 4th of July, my daughter participated in the Annual Little Miss Liberty and Little Uncle Sam Pageant, held in downtown Massillon, Ohio.  My daughter was named the First Runner-Up!!  My husband and I are so in love with our little girl, and we couldn’t be happier that she has blessed our lives in so many ways. 

Here are a few articles in the local newspapers:

From the Jackson Observer-Reporter:

A little patriotism PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 10 July 2008

Observer-Reporter Photo

By Susanna Smith / Observer-Reporter

  Some may not think of dancing the Hokey Pokey as much of a talent, but it was the only talent that mattered in Massillon’s Little Miss Liberty and Little Uncle Sam pageant Friday morning.
Twelve girls and three boys fighting for their respective titles put their left foot in and their left foot out (as only 4-and 5-year-olds can do) on the Lions Lincoln Theatre stage in Massillon while parents cheered and snapped photos.
“I love working with little ones,” emcee and director Nicole Garlando-Bernes said. “I wanted to make the pageant fun for the kids, not just the adults.”
To accomplish this, there were no costume changes, no talent shows and no pressure. After the 15 youngsters lined up on stage, Garlando-Bernes squatted down next to the children and let them introduce themselves.
Then the music started and the little ones followed her lead in the Hokey Pokey and the Freeze dance. Except for the emcee’s announcement, no one could have guessed what the dances were since the performance consisted of jumping up and down and running in circles.
“They’re judged strictly on personality,” Garlando-Bernes said. “We’ll let the judges decide how to judge that.”
After judges selected Little Miss Liberty and Little Uncle Sam, as well as two runners-up in each category, Garlando-Bernes crowned the winners (with tiara and Uncle Sam hat) and handed out teddy bears to the top six. She reminded all other participants that they were winners, too, as she handed each a bottle of bubbles.
One of the three judges, Lynda Blankenship, said it was almost impossible to pick three kids. The process involved jotting down contestant numbers of eye-catching children, then comparing notes and seeing who caught the eye of more than one judge.
“I think Massillon is full of really, really cute kids,” Blankenship said. “Little sweethearts, every one. In my opinion, they all won.”
The kids began showing off their personality well before they walked across stage. Little ones wearing red, white and blue twirled in circles in the theater foyer while parents watched.
Four-year-old Jyannah Elder, practicing her beauty queen wave, looked at her mother and said, “I’m going to win because you want me to win.” In less than an hour, Jyannah made her mother proud as second runner-up.
A particularly twirly little girl, Chloe Cook, waved miniature flags around to show off her patriotism.
“Her aunt was in the very first pageant down by City Hall,” her grandmother said. “I bet that was 21 years ago.”
Previously, the event was part of the city’s annual July Fourth “Picnic in the Park” celebration, but the picnic hasn’t taken place for two years. Therefore, the Ananda Center, a non-profit advocacy organization headquartered at the theater, re-instated the pageant this year.
When winners were announced and parents were dismissed, 4 and 5-year-olds streamed out the lobby doors to blow bubbles. But the media held back the top six. This particularly distressed the first runner-up Annika Lehman, who grimaced through the photo shoot while badgering her parents about going outside.
When her father finally carried her to the front door, she said, “I feel really great, and I got bubbles, too! Bubbles, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles, bubbles …”
Crown or no crown, the 15 little pageant winners effervescently bounded back home ready to entertain their families with the un-restrained joy of a patriotic preschooler … and bubbles.

Little Uncle Sam: Gavin Gresser
first runner-up: Zachary Miller
second runner-up: Dominik Lanzo

Little Miss Liberty: Alyssa Yingling
first runner-up: Annika Lehman
second runner-up: Jyannah Elder

Staff photos by Susanna Smith.
Annika Lehman walks up the stage ramp to join her competitors on stage for the Little Miss Liberty pageant at the Lions Lincoln Theatre in Massillon Friday morning. Lehman was voted first runner-up.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 10 July 2008 )


From the Massillon Independent:


Kids’ pageant, bands, booms mark return of ‘4th’ events

Kevin Whitlock
Arionna Lantzer, 4, of Navarre, waves from the stage at the Little Miss Liberty and Little Uncle Sam contest held at the Lions Lincoln Theatre


The Independent
Posted Jul 04, 2008 @ 08:38 PM

Leading 16 children in the “Hokey Pokey” on the stage at the Lions Lincoln Theatre is a little like herding cats.
But somehow, on the Fourth of July, Nicole Garlando-Berens managed to do it.
All for the cause of resurrecting one of Massillon’s venerable Fourth of July traditions – the Little Miss Liberty/Little Uncle Sam Pageant.
“It’s been around for a long time, but they didn’t have it last year,” Garlando-Berens said. “We wanted to keep the tradition alive.”
Garlando-Berens, executive director of the non-profit Ananda Center, said the city’s Fourth of July committee approached her about co-sponsoring the pageant this year with the Lincoln Theatre.
She herself was in the pageant as a 4-year-old. “I had fun,” she said.
Parents who brought their children to Friday’s pageant said they, too, wanted to keep their memories alive.
Aaron and Jennifer Cook, of Massillon, entered their daughter, Chloe, 4, as a Little Miss Liberty contestant.
“This is the first year she was old enough,” Aaron Cook said, as Chloe twirled around waving a miniature American flag. “Now that they’ve resurrected it, we decided to do it.”
Melissa Bartolone, of Massillon, said her 3-year-old son was too shy to participate and another son had just turned 6, putting him out of the age range. The pageant was open only to 4- and 5-year-old boys and girls.
“I was forced to do it when I was little,” she said. “I just wanted to support it (this year).”
When it came time for the pageant to start, the girls lined up and walked on stage to “This Land is Your Land,” and the boys, all three of them, to “Yankee Doodle.”
After the “Hokey Pokey,” they did a “freeze dance” with Garlando-Berens’ help. Three judges – Massillon firefighter Jason Laird, Tigers cheerleader Kaylin Moustaris, and Kids Scene director Lynda Blankenship – watched and took notes.
“We just looked for the cutest kid and if they were enjoying themselves,” said Moustaris, 17. “They all looked like they were having fun. They were all so cute.”
In the end, the judges chose Alyssa Yingling, 4, as Little Miss Liberty 2008 and Gavin Gresser, 5, as Little Uncle Sam 2008.
Zachary Miller, 4, was Little Uncle Sam first runner-up, and Dominic Lanzo, 4, was second runner-up.
Annika Lehman, 4, was Little Miss Liberty first runner-up, and Jyannah Elder, 4, was second runner-up.
“She’s my Little Miss Liberty,” Dan Yingling said of his daughter, Alyssa. “She’s got a personality, like, this big.”
Kim Lehman said of her daughter, Annika, “She’s such a ham. She just loves this kind of stuff.”
Other activities on Friday were geared more toward grown-ups, especially the older set. The movie “Stars and Stripes Forever” played at the Lincoln Theatre at 4 p.m., and the Del-Riccos and ReUNITED played the CitiCentre stage, starting at 6 p.m.
Fireworks, a favorite for all ages, started at 10 p.m.