By David Yarger
Tuesday morning, the 24 contestants for Miss New York visited Niagara Falls for a photo and brief remarks from current Miss New York Gabrielle Walter, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and President and CEO of Destination Niagara USA John Percy.
This was the first event of the week for the contestants. The 24 girls will compete for the 2018 Miss New York crown June 28-30 at Shea's Performing Arts Center.
Walter, a Clarence native, began the morning by welcoming the media and other spectators for attending. Walter then tied in her Miss America experience with the waterfall.
"What's really cool about being here today - and this being our first event - is that at Miss America, last September, it's a running tradition - and it's called the Show Us Your Shoes Parade - where every state title holder from across the country, they dress up as something that's representative of their state.
"Throughout my year in New York, we have so much history here. And what I decided to dress up as was Niagara Falls and I had the Maid of the Mist boats on my shoes. So I thought it was really cool to start this week off with the girls here specifically," Walter said.
Dyster praised Walter for being a role model to the contestants and appreciated the 24 girls for visiting the destination.
"What a fantastic example you've set for these 24 girls during your year as Miss New York," Dyster said. "You've really done us proud here in Western New York.
"I think it begins to help those of us who are on the outside understand what all the hoopla is really about. We know these are two dozen very beautiful girls, what we don't necessarily know ... is that they are also very accomplished in so many other ways. They're truly well-rounded people.
"I always think of Niagara Falls and the Statue of Liberty as the two bookends in this great state. ... Both of them are beautiful in their own right, but they're both very symbolic of what our state ... stands for. ... We're very, very honored that you chose to join us here today."
Percy added, "We're so excited to have Gabrielle and all 24 of you here to kick off on the brink of Niagara Falls. To have this background; it's just stunning this morning. I hope the rest of the week is this beautiful and this successful.
"To have Gabrielle represent Western New York across the state at many functions and many activities throughout the year ... it's been wonderful. Gabrielle is a true example and I hope each one of you will become ambassadors, not only in your individual communities that you represent this week, but all of New York state."
Percy followed by handing each contestant a Niagara Falls "swag bag," so each contestant could carry around the brand of the Falls.
The contestants for this year's pageant include:
Miss Adirondack, Brianna Lockwood; Miss Bluebird, Baylee Simpson; Miss Bronx, Li Ling Rivera; Miss Buffalo, Nina Zesky; Miss Central New York, Alexina Federhen; Miss Central Square Apple Festival, Bailee Russell; Miss Crown City, Morgan Johnson; Miss Erie Canal, Krysta Prehoda; Miss Excelsior, Ashley Marie Davis; Miss Finger Lakes, Diana Marie Russo; Miss Five Boroughs, Nia Imani Franklin; Miss Fulton County, Chelsea Cirillo; Miss Heart of New York, Jerica Huang; Miss Liberty, Inpreet Rattu; Miss Manhattan, Michelle Ley; Miss Montgomery City, Sara James; Miss Northern Star, Willa Hahn; Miss Pride of New York, Whitney Wilson; Miss Richmond County, Madison L'Insalata; Miss Southern Tier, Rahmeka Cox; Miss Staten Island, Nicole Doz; Miss Thousands Islands, Joelle Leek; Miss Upstate New York, Emily Mahana; and Miss Western New York, Ciara (CJ) McDermott.
To learn more about the pageant, visit www.MissNY.org.
2017 Miss New York Gabrielle Walter
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster
Destination Niagara USA President and CEO John Percy