Through smiles and happy tears, and a couple of minor glitches, the professionalism of the candidates vying for the Nanaimo Ambassador gala event on Saturday shined through.
That was the assessment of Barbara Ernst, a member of the Miss Nanaimo Pageant planning committee, who has been helping the girls prepare in earnest since April.
"I was blown away that they did so well, because we had rehearsals a couple weeks ago and I thought, 'These kids are never going to get these speeches memorized, they're never going to get their talent,' but they came through," said Ernst. "There was no bitterness backstage, which was the nicest thing. Some years you can get some bitterness, but it wasn't there."
Though there was some problems with backstage management, she added, it was a chance for the candidates' maturity to shine through.
"The kids went with the flow," said Ernst.
"When we went to play the music for one of the singers it didn't work, but she just sang. She was a real trooper. She didn't give up."
New Miss Nanaimo Tkia King was crowned on Saturday at the gala event, in which there were eight candidates.
After a summer where the candidates were busy with events virtually every weekend, it culminated in a speech night on Friday where each girl talked about a senior they had spent time with at the Nanaimo Seniors Village.
Saturday was the gala event, where the candidates answered questions, displayed a talent, talked about their sponsor and showed off their evening wear.
King, who was sponsored by Harris Auto Group, took on the role from 2012 winner Amber Huschi, and will be joined by vice ambassadors Breanna Heese, sponsored by the Nanaimo Daily News, and Maggie Benoit, sponsored by Damsels Fashions. The Nanaimo Ambassador Program is an annual event open to young women between the ages of 16 and 19.
Approximately 185 people attended this year's gala.
Each year the winning team travels throughout Vancouver Island and the province promoting youth initiatives and the City of Nanaimo.
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