A 58-year-old St. Lucian-born Clinical Technician in the Emergency Room at Mt. Sinai Medical Center on 5th Avenue in Manhattan on Saturday snatched the inaugural Miss Caribbean Woman 50 and Over crown in a Beauty Pageant that comprised six other Caribbean contenders at the Mahalia Jackson Intermediate School in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Miss St. Lucia, Sharon Eutrice Willie not only won the coveted crown but also swept all the other categories in the four-hour-long contest organized by the Brooklyn-based Grenada-American Ex-Teachers’ Association, Inc.
In addition to being awarded a trophy, along with the other contestants, for her participation in the pageant, Willie walked home with trophies for Best Performing Talent, Best Evening Gown, Best Introduction and Best Congeniality.
Miss Jamaica, Audrey Evans-Bubb, was first runner-up; Miss Trinidad and Tobago, Donna Douglas, second runner-up; and Miss Haiti, Adly Casseus, third runner-up.
The other contenders were: Miss Grenada, Jennifer Adams; Miss Guyana, Lesia Davidson; and Miss Barbados, Judy Newton.
Though Miss Grenada was, clearly, the crowd favorite – demonstrating much talent and responding well in the Interview Segment – she failed to place among the top four – to the chagrin of her boisterous supporters.
Miss St. Lucia, however, had her overly-ebullient supporters – jumping, dancing, screaming. and waving the St. Lucia flag in front of the stage in the large auditorium – when Kofi Brown announced the winner close to 10:30 p.m. The contest began four hours earlier.
“It’s very rewarding,” Willie told Caribbean Life on stage immediately after being crowned by Cecily Mason, president of the organizing group and a veteran pageant organizer. “I did my best. I put my best foot forward.
“We can do all things if we put our minds to it,” she added, stating that she will be available to “do whatever the association wants me to do.”
In her Introduction, Willie said she will “use this platform to address world hunger,” making it clear that “we may be 50 and Over, but we just get started.”
In her Talent, Miss St. Lucia read a poem, changing from house robe to shining attire, and ending with “I felt in love with me.”
When asked, during the Interview Segment, if social media has enhanced or damaged “our lifestyles or society as a whole”, she responded: “I believed it has damaged our lifestyles.”
She, however, added: “Like everything in life, there’s negative and positive. At Mt. Sinai, where I work, Mt. Sinai has become a household name because of social media.
“It’s important that we view social media in a positive light, so as not to damage our society,” Willie continued.
The pageant also featured performances by pre-eminent Grenadian gospel singer Ijeal Joseph; song, “No Letting Go”, by Melissa Powell; and “Caribbean Poem” by Queen M’Kai.
Additionally, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the son of Grenadian immigrants, whose mother, Patricia Williams, was among patrons, addressed the effervescent audience.
“This is an historic moment,” he said tersely. “Enjoy, peace and blessings.”
Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman, the daughter of Jamaican and Barbadian immigrants, who represents the 58th Assembly District in Brooklyn, was also on hand.
She thanked the audience, urging them to “enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean people.
“We have to ensure that we support our culture,” added Chandler-Waterman, who succeeded former Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, who had represented the 58th Assembly District for about three decades.
Perry was recently appointed United States Ambassador to Jamaica, the first native Jamaican to hold that position.
Mason said she was overjoyed with the attendance at and success of the historic pageant.
“I’m so rewarded, I’m so satisfied,” she said almost at show’s end. “Here we are this evening: One people, one Caribbean.”
In her introductory remarks, she applauded the seven contestants for their bravery – and beauty – in participating in the first-of-its-kind event.
“These women, they’re focused and very strong,” said Mason, who has been organizing pageants for the past 27 years. “I’m very grateful for the (Caribbean) Diaspora for coming out.”
Stephanie Gabriel served as Mistress of Ceremonies.