L-R Sandra Ramaker, Second Runner Up; Colleen Nielson, First Runner Up; LE Ann Elder Kalstein, Ms. Senior Mesquite 2018; and Teri Nehrenz, Third Runner Up.

I recently had the pleasure of competing in the Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant and then the displeasure of coming in last place. It’s ok though; after I left the interview portion the day before the actual pageant, I expected it.

LE Ann Elder Kalstein was named the 2018 Ms. Senior Mesquite and you all have a wonderful new queen. Colleen Nielson won the titles of First Runner Up and Ms. Congeniality, which she completely deserved; she’s an exceptionally warm, friendly and funny woman.

The experience was like nothing I’ve had before even though I’m familiar with the workings of the stage and productions, people performing and everything that goes into preparing for the show.

The women I found myself involved with in the pageant, the other contestants, the board members and  public were the ones who made the difference and it was truly wonderful all the way around. I highly recommend any woman 55 or over to try it.

No, you don’t have to be a glamour queen, those who know me know I’m far from that, but you might have to get used to wearing a little make up in public and don’t forget your lipstick. Pictures and appearances are a part of the experience, wearing the big white banner that said Ms. Senior Contestant on it isn’t exactly anyone’s idea of blending in but it was fun. The people we encountered were wonderfully inquisitive, supportive and wished us all well.

What I was able to witness through it all was three wonderful women, two of whom thought they had no talent and one who went out of her comfort zone to have a little fun with hers, grow and develop into on stage stars.

Our Contestant Mums, former Ms. Senior Mesquite Jean Hardman and 2016 First Runner Up Gail Laird were the most wonderful and supportive coaches we could have asked for, always willing to spend extra time with any of us if and when needed and sending us the much appreciated emails to help keep us on schedule and time for the various activities and events we participated in.

Our director, Bunny Wiseman, was top notch and put together a pageant we could all be proud to be part of. She set the stage so we all looked good and made sure we walked, worked and positioned ourselves so the light shone the brightest on our best features. She worked endlessly scripting the entire pageant and diligently with the techs to get the sound, lights and photos together for not just us but for the various entertainers; it was a challenging undertaking as everybody had props, movement, costumes and voices to consider and it was an extensive program.

Together with the contestant mums, Wiseman also worked on each of our talents, our walk and our poise to make sure we looked and performed like stars; in less than two and a half minutes.

Sandra Ramaker and Nielson were shy, unsure about themselves and, sorry ladies, awkward the first time they stood in front of the small crowd of contestants and board members to perform and give their philosophy but over the course of the six weeks, with all the help, support and experience they were able to draw from; they completely transformed.

The women who stood on the state the night of the pageant were poised, under control, appeared completely confident in their performance and wowed the audience and judges. I might even talk them into the theatre one day. Wiseman, Laird and Hardman were all extremely supportive but tough, honest and relentless in correcting our wrongs so everything was right, for us.

Kalstein was already comfortable on stage acting but she went completely out of her comfort range and turned a free style dance into a number that was uplifting and fun to watch, her energy and spirit was contagious, it was no wonder the judges chose her.

The women who work year-round getting this pageant ready, the Ms. Senior Mesquite Board Members Joni Robinson, Geni Barton, Mary Nelson and Yvonne Lum Kee were wonderful mentors and friends. These ladies worked so hard to gather the contestants, work on the publicity, arrange meet and greets, fundraisers and photo opportunities, which was in the six weeks before of rehearsals, the real work, the specifics about the actual pageant, were already nearly complete.

They worked with us to gather our ads coordinate them, proof and finally print them. The Ms. Senior Mesquite Pageant is, after all, first and foremost a fundraising event. The contestants and board members offer businesses the opportunity to advertise in the program which raises donations for other non-profit groups in town. Mary Nelson said, “With the loss of so many events that used to offer tables for the non-profits to generate funds gone, it’s even more important that we work hard to raise some money to help them keep going. It certainly isn’t everything they need, but we all do the best we can because they all do the best they can. It’s all about contributing and helping the other groups that assist in keeping the community vital and thriving.” The ladies who involve themselves in this pageant are true community leaders and activists, not only did they never miss an appearance, a meeting or a rehearsal, their support and encouragement was priceless as is their many contributions to the City of Mesquite and its residents. Community members, family and friends were generous, businesses supportive and the community was helped just a little bit more.

Yeah, last place is ok, the experience was first rate all the way and I wouldn’t change a thing because I get to do it again next year; I figure at Third Runner Up, I have two more rungs to climb before I reach the top.  I hope some of you lovely women out there decide to take that leap of faith and join me.

Thank you to all who supported us, attended the pageant and wished us well. Congratulations to Kalstein, our beautiful new queen.