Tuesday, December 11, 2007

WE ENTERTAINMENT - Inaugural Caribbean Tourism Pageant Gives Industry a Beauty Boost!

by Carol A. Allen

On Saturday, November 17, eleven beautiful young ladies representing various tropical destinations competed in the First Annual Miss Caribbean Tourism Pageant.

Presented by Niagara, Ontario based Kool Katts Caribbean Restaurant, the show was held at the Toronto Botanical Garden located at the popular Edwards Gardens site. Opening ceremonies began with a performance by Gospel Pannist, Winston Dayal and a colourful parade of flags.

The contestants represented the following hotspots: Antigua & Barbuda; Barbados; Cayman Islands; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; and Trinidad & Tobago.

Ranging in ages from 18-26, the contestants practiced for several months leading up to pageant night. For many of them, it was their first pageant experience.

A lifelong dream come true for Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Heather Christian-Simmonds, this pageant focuses on offering young women scholarships to further their professional and educational goals, while giving them an opportunity to act as ambassadors and promote the beauty of the Caribbean.

The contestants first introduced themselves to the audience wearing black tank tops and white shorts. Next, they appeared in cultural costumes reflective of their heritage. They spoke about the person who they considered to be their own cultural icon and their favourite places to visit in their homeland.

Most of the young ladies expressed that participating in the Miss Caribbean Tourism Pageant gave them a chance to learn about other islands, while expanding their knowledge of their own culture. They also felt that it would allow them to gain experience, improve their self-confidence and communication skills, allow them to become role models to other young women and give them opportunities to network within the community.

The beachwear segment gave the contestants a chance to display their well-maintained physiques, while the evening gown competition showed their elegance, grace and personal style.

The top five finalists where then chosen with Charity Lyons (St. Lucia); Semica Pascal (Grenada); Kimi Iola Holloway (Antigua & Barbuda); Simone Skinner (Barbados) and Falesha Raquel (Jamaica) vying for the Miss Caribbean Tourism title with just one final question to answer.

As the judges deliberated, Toronto-based recording artist, Glen Ricketts, serenaded the ladies.

This very tight race had a climatic and surprise ending with Antigua & Barbuda's representative, Holloway, taking the second runner-up title, and an unexpected tie for first runner-up between Pascal (Grenada) and Lyons (St. Lucia).

In the end, Falecia Raquel (Jamaica), whose presence and articulation stood out through the competition, was crowned the First Miss Caribbean Tourism. The 20 year-old Dance Instructor, will receive a $1000 scholarship sponsored by Lasco Foods Jamaica, a trip to the Caribbean courtesy of Air Jamaica, plus other special gifts.

Semica Pascal, an 18 year-old college student and Charity Lyons, a 21 year-old Personal Support Worker, will share the $500 Clorice Burrel-Christian Scholarship in honour of the pageant founder's mother who was in attendance. Second-runner up, Kimi Iola Holloway, will receive the $500 Alwyn Barry Scholarship.

Heather Christian-Simmonds is an active Jamaican-born volunteer and has spent many years working in the modelling, beauty and entertainment industry. Her passion for assisting in the development of the Caribbean community paid off with the tremendous positive feedback and outpouring of support for this show which she was able to pull off with a limited budget and the generous support of sponsors. She indicated that she is "grateful to all of the participants, judges, volunteers and everyone who contributed to making this first year a tremendous success."

For more information regarding the Miss Caribbean Tourism Pageant, visit the site at: http://www.misscaribbeantourism.com.

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