Last night I had the opportunity to co-host the White Rock Youth Ambassador Pageant with Bob Davidson, a distinguished toastmaster and husband to White Rock mayor Catherine Ferguson.
The theme of the evening was “news,” which, as a journalist, I had a lot of fun playing with. The 10 candidates performed a dance number to a song from the film Newsies, and I sported (at one point) an outfit that I thought was the epitome of journalism cool: A tan trench coat, a fedora and an eight dollar cigar, (which was only three-quarters of a cigar by the end of the show due to my over-zealous cigar-chomping skills, or lack thereof).
It was my first time emceeing the gala, but what made the night special was that my sister, @ChloeWoodin, was the outgoing Miss White Rock. Our family has been a pageant family for quite some time now, but my sister and I have seldom shared a stage at the same.
Three years ago, I was crowned Miss White Rock 2008, and spent the most wonderful year with my White Rock Youth Ambassador team. In 2009, I crowned a fellow high school band student and friend as the new queen of White Rock. A year later, she crowned my sister.
Last night, Chloe crowned her successor, officially ending the Woodin sisters’ days as royal ambassadors… At least for the time being. From August 2008 to July 29, 2011, one of us has worn a tiara to city functions, fundraisers and other community pageants, (apart from a couple of weeks in August 2009). There was a short period when we were both ambassadors: She was Miss White Rock, and I was a British Columbia Ambassador.
Besides that, our reigns have been separate. And in a sense, I’m glad they were. We have each had our moments in the spotlight, and had we ever reigned together, neither of us would have grown as much.
Last night was a night to remember, and I am so very proud of her and what she and her team have accomplished this year.
I should also thank my co-host Bob, who let me announce the new Miss White Rock (which was the best part).
Congratulations to Alexandra Barberis, the new queen, and her team. And to the retired sparkleheads…
“Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hang, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas,” Henry Ford.
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…
Lytton is a small town, its city centre located about an hour outside of Hope. It’s known for it’s white water rafting, the First Nations population living there and on the reserves surrounding it, and it’s temperatures; Lytton is, after all, Canada’s Hotspot.
It’s also a very cool place geographically because it is surrounded by three distinct mountain ranges, and is situated where the Fraser and Thompson rivers meet.
This weekend was the Lytton Ambassador Pageant, so I spent three and a half days amidst excitement, culture and almost unbearable heat.
I drove up with the White Rock girls and coordinator on the Thursday.
As usual, we were running just a little behind schedule, so we missed the bus that was supposed to take the 25+ visiting communities onto the reserve for a Healing Gathering.
Our only option was to head up there ourselves.
After about an hour of off-roading through pouring rain, we made it to the Powow in time to watch the candidates give their speeches and to make our visiting royalty greetings.
We left shortly after due to the less than desirable weather, and on our way back to town, saw a black bear cub galloping across the road.
We met up with the sparklehead crew later on for a barbecue and pool party, even though it was still raining.
Again, we didn’t stay too long. Instead, we went exploring.
The Lytton Friendship Ambassador for 2009 took us on a tour to the West Side, a residential and ranch part of Lytton on the other side of the Fraser river.
We took a two-car reaction ferry across: a reaction ferry is propelled by the currents in the river, and also runs along several cables attached to each shoreline.
There used to be about 30 reaction ferries in B.C.; the Lytton ferry is one of five still in operation.
Besides ranches and houses, the West Side is home to the spiritual Stein Valley.
Hikers and adventurers can spend months hiking the entire valley with its many trails, but we decided to walk about 15 minutes deep to the Asking Rock.
This massive boulder was once decorated with First Nations paintings from over a hundred years ago. Today, you can still see the remnants of the art. It is a First Nations’ custom to bring a gift of tobacco to the rock as an offering to the ancestors who were once there.
After hiking back up, we returned to our hotel which was creepy and filthy to say the least, (it is apparently haunted, and is definitely inhabited by black widow spiders…)
Friday was my favourite day of the trip. After a delicious breakfast, we went to a resort just outside of town called Kumsheen, known for it’s white water rafting.
We spent a couple of hours in purple wet suits paddling the mighty Thompson river through rapids with six foot high waves.
To give you an idea of the size of the Thompson, it is the third largest commercially run river in the world, with a volume that day of about 48,000 CFS (cubic feet per second).
Perhaps the coolest part of our rafting trip was getting to hop out of the raft and swim down the river.
Like when I went last year, we swam in a calm section, in between rapids.
But this year we were allowed to swim through six foot high rapids!
This clearly would not have been possible without our life jackets, and I did swallow quite a bit of water, but it was totally worth it.
That evening was the talent and fashion show portion of the weekend.
Saturday we visited Hell’s Gates, located on the cliffs on the other side of the Fraser.
We took a short but rocky tram ride across and spent a couple of hours taking pictures, learning about the area’s history and browsing the fudge and ice cream parlour.
Finally, we attended the pageant itself, which lasted about five and a half hours.
The B.C. Ambassador team is very close to the 2009 Lytton royalty as both programs are run by the same coordinator.
The three of us were honoured on stage with hand-carved paddles, each with engravings unique to us: mine has a hummingbird backed by mountains, symbolizing inner and outer beauty.
We were also given beaded roses, four each to represent four of the world’s ethnicities: red for the East, black for the West, yellow for the South and White for the North. The bouquets were awarded to us for our work in bringing communities and people of all types together.
Sunday morning was spent with a nice sleep-in, followed by breakfast and the car ride home.
The Lytton pageant was a lot of fun, and I am simply ecstatic about my paddle.
Next stop, a weekend at home for the first time in weeks: the Miss White Rock Pageant and Spirit of the Sea Festival is five days away!
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.