Kyle Sherwood Ralston of Fairfield was crowned Ms. Senior Connecticut at the 26th annual pageant Saturday at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield.
The event featured 11 contestants from around Connecticut, each age 60 or older. Participants were rated on talent, evening wear and philosophy of life and were judged by a distinguished panel chaired by Diane Michelle Piccolo of Suffield, who was Ms. Connecticut in 2008-09.
Contestants sang, danced, displayed artwork and delivered inspiring narration during the talent competition. After each woman described her philosophy of life, the panel members submitted their scores to a tabulator.
Judy MacDonald of Niantic was named second runner-up, and Diane DiPiero-Saia of Enfield received first runner-up. After a dramatic pause, Ralston was named Ms. Senior Connecticut 2011, and was crowned by Shelley Carbone, an Enfield native who is Mrs. America 2010-11.
Ralston, who sang "Cabaret" and danced the Charleston during the talent competition, emphasized positivity in her life philosophy speech. She recalled how helping her mother deal with Alzheimer's disease made her appreciate life. She concluded with a quote from Oscar Hammerstein, "A bell is no bell until you ring it; a song is no song until you sing it; and the love in your heart wasn't put there to stay - love isn't love until you give it away."
She said she was thrilled to win the event on her third entry, and is eagerly awaiting the national pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. in October.
"I really couldn't believe it, I was so happy," she said. "You hold your breath and hope, but you don't want to hope too much because you're afraid you'll be disappointed again. I can't wait to represent Connecticut in Atlantic City."
Also participating in this year's event were:
- Dr. Doreen Stern of Hartford,
- Francesca Piscottano of Rocky Hill,
- Dorothy Mock of Bloomfield,
- Madelyn Novick of Hamden,
- Susan Marcotte of Enfield,
- Dr. Jo Anne Bauer of Hartford,
- Suzy Cooper of Naugatuck, and
- Sandra Wood of Manchester.
Longtime Enfield teacher Guy Bourassa shared master of ceremonies duties with Ruth Porcello, Ms. Senior Connecticut 1985.
Porcello co-chaired the event with Joyce Keating, Ms. Senior Connecticut 2007.