Education Is Focus of Redesigned Pageant System

Oct 11, 2017
Olivia Suarez, the current Miss Ocean County.

Miss Ocean County – it’s not your grandmother’s beauty pageant. At least that’s the message the new volunteer directors want people to know.

“It’s about education,” said Geralyn Watson, a music teacher by trade. “It provides scholarships and opportunities for individuals who might not have them otherwise.”

Watson, along with her husband, Chuck, is working to bring Miss Ocean County back to, well, Ocean County. For more than three decades, there was no county representation in the Miss New Jersey pageant. Two years ago, Miss Ocean County returned with an open competition where the only requirement was being a state resident. Starting this year, the Miss Ocean County pageant is closed, meaning only county residents can compete for the title.

It’s one of the reasons Watson and her husband are looking to get the word out about the pageant for county residents interested in learning more. Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven will host the event.

“We’re back and we’re different,” Watson said. “It (the pageant system) is so much more than what you remember.”

Olivia Suarez, the current Miss Ocean County, said being in pageants helped her hone her social skills, especially interviewing skills and public speaking.

“But what I love most is the community service,” Suarez said, who took her volunteering platform to Honduras where she taught English and did skits with children at a local orphanage there. “Volunteering is powerful.”

Suarez, a graduate of Widener University in Pennsylvania with a business management and hospitality degree, began her pageant career as a teen and “took full advantage of the educational opportunities.”

“I’d love to invite someone to see how smart and intelligent the contestants are,” she said when asked about what the hardest part of competing is, adding the questions each contestant is asked proves “you know who you are as a person.”

Introduction to the Miss Ocean County Outstanding Teen and Miss Veteran’s Day Outstanding Teen is at 1:30 p.m. at the Starlight Dance Studio in Manahawkin this Sunday, Oct. 15. The Miss Ocean County and Miss Veteran’s Day training is slated for Nov. 12. Contact 732-998-0052 or missoceancounty@gmail.com or P.O. Box 283, Forked River, N.J. 08731 if you’re interested in becoming a contestant or if you’d like to lend your support.  —G.G.S.

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