By Laura Lennie, News Staff
Miss Immaculate Heart of Mary Alessandra Mariella has added a new title to her name.
The Cardinal Newman Catholic Secondary School Grade 12 student was crowned Miss Winona Peach Queen at the 2014 Winona Peach Queen Pageant last Thursday at Liuna Gardens.
“To have been nominated by Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish was such an honour and now to have won the pageant is so humbling,” she said.
Seven young ladies vied for the crown at the pageant, which featured a casual wear, evening wear, speech and impromptu question portion. The event also included an interview segment.
Miss Croatian National Home Nicole Krnezich was first runner-up and Miss Kinsmen Club of Stoney Creek Gurjas Sandhu was second runner-up, earning them the titles of Miss Winona Peach Princesses.
Miss Winona Men’s Club Jasleen Grewal was voted Miss Congeniality. Miss Stoney Creek Lions Club Hailey Dymond took home the Suzanne Erskine Legacy Award.
Mariella said all of the contestants were beautiful, both inside and out.
“It was such a pleasure getting to know them during the weeks of preparation,” she said. “Each one of them is so accomplished within their school and community that they are truly deserving of recognition. We had a lot of fun together.”
Mariella admitted she was a “little apprehensive” going into the pageant.
She wanted to make her parish proud, but was a little unsure of what to expect from the event.
“The organizers, especially the Shuker family, made all of us feel so comfortable right from the start,” Mariella said. “The past queen and princesses were so welcoming and friendly. I feel that the experience has made me feel more confident and even more proud to be part of such a great community.”
The Winona Peach Queen Pageant has been a long-standing tradition in the community.
The event offers young women an opportunity to develop their confidence, as well as highlight their intelligence and personality.
The queen and princesses are ambassadors who travel to various community events and media outlets promoting tourism and goodwill.
Mariella, who has lent her time to the Stoney Creek Terry Fox Run, Inside Ride and is a counsellor at the Newman Youth Summer Sports Camp, said the event helps showcase the spirit of the residents of Winona.
“The pageant is only one of many events associated with the Winona Peach Festival,” she said. “It brings attention to how volunteerism brings everyone together to help raise funds for community outreach and projects. How else could a small town gain international recognition for its festival?”
Mariella said she’s really looking forward to being an ambassadress for the Winona Peach Festival and meeting new people.
“My family, friends and I have been attending the event every year since I can remember and now I will have opportunities to invite others to attend,” she said. “It is going to be a great way to participate in community events and to give back. And, I have to admit, I’m looking forward to enjoying some peach sundaes.”