By MIKE CHAIKEN
Sixth grader Mara DeLuco is not your typical pageant winner.
The Kennedy Middle School student recently won the national title Miss Pre-Teen American Nation.
But when she was standing on the stage in Bridgeport, Conn.—one of two girls left at the finals—and she learned she won, the sixth grader did not act like the typical pageant winner. She did not cry tears of joy.
Instead, Mara said, she giggled.
And although Mara wears a crown, gown, and sash when she represents her title, she also knows how to get rough and tumble.
She plays football in Southington for the Packers.
“I like everything about it,” said Mara when asked about why she liked football.
In fact, football played a big role in Mara’s first big fund raiser as the newest Miss Pre-Teen American Nation.
Her first official fund raiser as Miss Pre-Teen American Nation was a day of flag football for adult men and women and youth girls and boys at the Southington Valley Midget Football field at Recreation Park on Aug. 20. Sixty people participated and she collected $1,500 to fight Alzheimer’s disease.
Mara said she was pleased with the turnout and the amount of money she raised.
Alzheimer’s research and awareness is Mara’s issue of concern for the year. She said she selected the cause because her grandmother has the disease.
Mara said she likes doing community service as a title holder. “It feels good to help out.”
Among her other acts as Miss Pre-Teen American Nation, Mara said she traveled to Las Vegas to appear at the Mrs. America pageant to support her friend Allyson Genovese of Southington, who is Mrs. Connecticut America. That trip inspired her to eventually try to be Miss Connecticut’s Outstanding Teen, Miss Connecticut, Miss America, or Miss USA some day.
At the American Nation pageants, Mara was judged on evening gown, fashion wear, and interview. She said her favorite category is fashion wear.
At the national pageant, not only did she win the title, she received awards for overall photogenic, little sister of the year and Queen of Queens for community service as a state title holder.
Prior to the American Nation pageant, Mara had a few pageants under her belt. But she didn’t expect to win the Connecticut crown that set the stage for the national title. When she was one of two contestants left standing that night, Mara said she figured the other girl would win because she already had competed for a national title.
And when she won, she said, “It felt good.”
At the national pageant, to make the top 10 first, felt good. But when she learned she won, Mara said she wasn’t one of those girls who let the tears fall.
“I was a giggler,” said Mara.
Mara said she likes pageants because, “I like making new friends.” Some of the girls she met at the state and national pageant still keep in touch.
Asked if she had any advice for girls interested in competing in pageants like her, Mara quoted her pageant coach. “You have to be a good loser to be a good winner.”