West New York's Senior Affairs Director Victor Barrera thought it was time for local seniors to showcase their beauty and talents to the town, and he's now coordinating the first Ms. Senior West New York pageant in history. It will take place Saturday, Sept. 23.Barrera came up with the idea about six months ago when he saw an Oklahoma senior pageant on television.
"After I saw the contest, I thought it was a great idea," said Barrera. "I called up their senior services office, and they me told how enthusiastic the seniors were about it."
After the Oklahoma office explained the procedure of hosting a senior pageant, Barrera said he knew the concept was perfect for his local seniors.
"You always hear about beauty pageants for young people, but seniors always get left out," said Barrera. "When I told the seniors that we were going to have the pageant, they were so happy. They've been waiting for something like this for a while."
While Barrera is still looking for more West New York applicants, the seniors who have already signed up said they're looking forward to the event.
"I think it's great," said Rosa Merzeau, 68. "We're still beautiful both inside and out. We all dance and when we do, we look like teenagers. It's important for us to look in the mirror, put on makeup and take care of ourselves and feel young."
The pageant will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Hudson Hall, located at 6018 Hudson Ave., with a senior dance party directly following the contest until 4 p.m. The first competition in the pageant will have seniors promenading in their finest evening gowns. The second category will have seniors showing off their best beach gear for the swimwear competition. And finally, the seniors will have to show that they have brains as well as beauty for the talent showcase.
First prize is a free diner at Spirito Grill in Weehawken, and consolation prizes will include makeup and local beauty salon gift certificates. The first, second and third place winners will receive trophies.
Some seniors said that the best part about the pageant won't be winning prizes but receiving a free makeover that will be offered before the show. Barrera is working with a local beauty school to offer free hair and makeup to all the participating seniors.
"I'm so excited because I never use makeup," said Medina.
Clotilde Milian, 70, said that she's no stranger to makeup, since her son, Louis Phillipe, is considered one of the top three make-up artists in the country.
"When my son does my makeup, I look like a queen," said Milian. "But he's out of the country on fashion shoots with big models and designers, so he can't do my makeup for the show."
Carmen Isquierdo, 84, said she doesn't care about the glitz and glamour of the pageant as much as the dancing.
"I hope there's lots of salsa and merengue, " said Isquierdo. "I love to dance."
Barrera said he hopes to get at least 20 women to participate in the event, and he said he's planning to work on extending the pageant to the rest of the county.
"I'm going to try to get the other towns to do this too, and then maybe we can put our winners together for Ms. Senior Hudson County, " said Barrera.
Barrera has about a dozen contestants so far who are looking forward to dressing up, singing, dancing and playing instruments among their peers, but he said he's hoping to get more senior to come forward.
"Any West New York ladies over 62 can sign up," said Barrera.
Any female West New York seniors interested in receiving the free makeover or competing for the title of Ms. Senior West New York can call Victor Barrera at the West New York Senior Citizens Affairs office at 295-5144 before Sept. 20.