My very last pageant, my own retirement pageant, took place this past weekend in Merritt.

I drove up early on Wednesday, my first time driving on the Coquihalla highway.

The 2010 B.C. Ambassador candidates had already been up in Merritt all week rehearsing and preparing for their events on Friday and Saturday.

Wednesday evening, I met the cameraman from Shaw Cable who would be interviewing us the next day.

It’s a small world: turns out he lived in White Rock, graduated from my high school several years before me and graduated from BCIT’s broadcast journalism program, the school I am planning on transferring to.

Thursday morning was our designated “press day.”

We were interviewed on the Kamloops Midday Show, and did a segment with Shaw Cable. The three of us did two newspaper interviews with local Merritt papers: the Merritt Herald and the Merritt News. Our final interview was with the Merritt radio station.

Friday, I co-emceed the candidates’ personal speeches in the afternoon, and their community speeches and talents that evening.

Saturday morning and afternoon were dedicated to hair appointments, rehearsals and a visiting royalty luncheon.

Finally, the pageant night had arrived.

The slideshow I’d spent hours working on displayed hundreds of photos of the 2009 Team’s past year and went off without a hitch. I received many bouquets of flowers, and walked through the audience in a brand new gown. I gave my retirement speech without blubbering, and I proudly crowned one of the three 2010 British Columbia Ambassadors.

It was a great night.

And even though the week leading up to it had been dramatic and stressful, the evening was nothing but positive.

I will miss being an ambassador, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead.

Equipped with many memories, friends all over the province and the skills I’ve learnt over the past year, I am ready for the next big thing.

I am, and forever will be, @HayleyWoodin, Miss White Rock 2008 and British Columbia Ambassador for 2009/2010.

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This weekend was my last pageant as a B.C. Ambassador: in seven days I will be passing on my crown and banner to another deserving individual.

On Friday, I travelled to Penticton with the newly crowned White Rock youth ambassadors and Miss White Rock 2010/2011, my sister, @ChloeWoodin.

My mom chaperoned us, and we met up with my other two ambassadors in the city of peaches and beaches.

The gala was lovely, and the 14 Miss Penticton candidates all did a great job. As usual, the visiting royalty had the opportunity to bring their greetings on stage.

Saturday morning we rode in the Peachfest parade, and spent the afternoon mini-golfing and go-karting before attending the royalty ball that evening.

This weekend was special not only because my sister and I both got to go to a pageant together as sparkleheads, but also because the Penticton pageant was my first out-of-town experience as Miss White Rock 2008, and my last as a B.C. Ambassador.

It has been a full two years, coming full circle. And although I will miss being an ambassador, I am looking forward to temporarily retiring from the public eye.

Final stop, Merritt on Wednesday, the beginning of the end.

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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After spending countless weekends away visiting other communities in B.C., I got to welcome visiting royalty from all across the province to my home town.

The Miss White Rock pageant and White Rock Youth Ambassador gala was held on Friday, kicking off White Rock’s Spirit of the Sea festivities held annually on the August long weekend.

It was an emotional night, partially because I know the retiring ambassador team very well as I’ve travelled and attended local events with them for the past year.

But the excitement, anxiety and joy I felt was mostly due to the fact that my sister @ChloeWoodin was competing.

And boy did she compete.

She cleaned up all of the program’s awards except for the talent award, winning the public speaking, essay, community quiz and fashion show components as well as the Committee Award.

Even though we (my family and I) knew all along she would win, it was nice to know it officially.

The rest of the weekend happened quickly. All of the sparkleheads attended the dance after the pageant, went down to the beach Saturday morning to check out the vendors and free concerts, and rode in the Torchlight Parade that evening.

I rode in a 1964 Ford convertible Mustang, red of course, with my fellow B.C. Ambassadors.

Like I said, this weekend has been a bit of a blur, but an unforgettable experience nonetheless.

And for the first time in history, two sisters have both won the title of Miss White Rock.

This is only the beginning.

So watch out world, here come the Woodins…

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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Today was the first day of my five day adventure: three pageants, three parades and a whole lot of dinners, socials and driving.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and left White Rock around 6:30 a.m. to catch what should have been the 7:25 a.m. Greyhound leaving from Langley to Osoyoos.

But the bus was late. And when I reached my transfer station in Chiliwack, my second bus was delayed because it broke down.

I didn’t mind the bus ride as much as I thought I would (the drivers handled my designer suitcase with care and my three gowns got to sit in their own window seat).

And it was neat getting to see the towns of Princeton and Hedley along the drive.

After nine long hours, I finally arrived in Osoyoos with half an hour to get ready for the dinner.

Now, at most pageant dinners or luncheons, Grace is usually said before the meal.

So it wasn’t unusual that the ambassadors and chaperones had to wait for someone to bless the meal before helping themselves to the dinner buffet.

As I was waiting patiently, chatting with royalty I hadn’t seen in a while, I heard the chaperone table calling me over.

Confused, I walked over, and the Osoyoos coordinator asked me if I would like to say Grace, and that I had 30 seconds to think of what to say.

I was mortified: not only have I never said Grace, I had no idea what I was supposed to say.

So I treated the awkward situation like an impromptu question (I have answered two, for the Miss White Rock and B.C. Ambassador pageants respectively).

In front of the crowded hall I stood, eyes closed, head bowed, hands crossed.

I thanked God for the food, and for the friends, family and loved ones to share it with. I’m pretty sure I mumbled something else about joyous occasions, but I can’t quite remember.

Nobody knew about my pre-Grace anxiety, and I was actually complimented on what is now being called my Impromptu Grace.

Crisis averted.

Next was the pageant, which included some public speaking on my part as well as some watery eyes as Osoyoos Princess Chelsea spoke on stage about how much our friendship has meant to her.

And after the crowning, a DQ stop, the evening social and a short drive to Oliver, I’m now catching up with some pageant gals.

In a couple hours I’ll be in the Osoyoos Canada Day parade; time to get some sleep.

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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Yesterday, I held my second fundraiser garage sale for Free The Children, and to great success.

As British Columbia Ambassadors, my team and I have dedicated our reign to raising funds to build a school in Kenya, through Craig Kielburger’s Free The Children organization.

The school has been a two-year projec started by our ambassador predecessors, and the goal is close to being achieved with the help of family, friends and the generous communities of B.C.

At the beginning of my reign, we had several grand left to raise. Now, the three of us have about $1,000 each left to fundraise.

My first fundraiser garage sale was in my hometown of White Rock a couple of weeks ago. And despite the lousy weather, I managed to raise $450.

Yesterday, we (my family and I) took the same trinkets and treasures we hadn’t managed to sell in White Rock to Pitt Meadows for a second attempt. We set up shop in my Aunt and Uncle’s garage, and sold over $350 in just a few hours.

I have only $200 or so left to raise!

Thank you’s to all of the people who have helped me and my team out:

@BobSongs, UB and AL thank you for the garage sale items, generous donations in both dollar amounts and time, and your unwavering enthusiasm.

Thanks to my grandparents for the handmade birdhouses and boxes upon boxes of garage sale stuff that made me a goldmine at both fundraisers.

Thank you to my parents and sister Chloe for all of your help, time and effort, and for keeping me in check when the crown and all of the attention it attracts starts to go to my head.

A special shout out to Jude Remedios for donating some beautiful pieces of art for my garage sale.

(You can check out her work at www.juderemedios.com).

To reach my $1,000 goal, I will be selling homemade birdhouses and craft kits at the White Rock Farmers’ Market on Sunday, June 27.

You can find answers to the five W’s here:

www.whiterockfarmersmarket.ca

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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When the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, it means that pageant season has finally arrived.

This weekend I travelled to Vancouver Island to take part in the Lake Cowichan Lady of the Lake pageant with my fellow B.C. Ambassadors.

We caught an afternoon ferry on Friday so we would have time to get ready for the gala that evening. The dress was formal as usual, and the ball was held in the Lake Cowichan community hall. The dinner was catered, and the hall was beautifully decorated.

Because it was an island pageant and most of the ambassador programs are in the Interior, only royalty from Nanaimo, Lower Nicola Indian Band, Ladysmith and Lytton got to enjoy the candidates’ fashion show, speeches and evening gown walk.

The retiring royalty said their goodbyes, the visiting royalty gave their speeches and program coordinators took countless photographs.

After the 5 hour event, we went back to the Nanaimo house we were staying at to get some sleep.

Saturday morning was the parade, and the three of us rode in style: a red covertible Mercedes thank you very much.

My girls and I unfortunately suffered some sunburns. Ever heard of a farmer’s tan? Well we each had a much dreaded sash-tan…

Lunch was next, and then the Lady of the Lake crowning. We then toodled around the town for a bit, checking out the Lake Days’ festivities and snapping photos.

After an off-duty barbecue and a relaxing night of pageantry talk, we took a morning ferry back to the mainland.

Luckily, I live about 40 minutes from the mainland ferry terminal. My two ambassadors had a bit of a longer drive home: Miranda lives in Vernon and Anna in Williams Lake, both in B.C.’s Interior.

The Cranbrook and Castlegar pageants are next in line, but my next trip will be to Osoyoos on June 30.

Pictures and info on the British Columbia Ambassador Program can be found at www.bcambassador.com.

Tweet me!

@HayleyWoodin

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