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Savoring pageantry over tea

POULSBO — The Sons of Norway lodge took on a more elegant air Sunday afternoon as 13 pageant hopefuls met their younger counterparts for the first time.

“In this day and age, you don’t get invited to a tea party very often,” said pageant organizer Michelle Nilsen-Wasson.

With five young women vying for the Miss Poulsbo crown and eight others taking aim at the Miss Kitsap title, the 7th annual tea party set the stage for the rest of the pageant events, which conclude March 25 in Bremerton.

The party was catered by the Poulsbo Tea House and featured teas, pastries and finger sandwiches served in formal tea house style.

“We started this with five or six contestants and seven Little Sisters in a tiny, little room and now we’ve grown to this,” Nilsen-Wasson said.

The pageants’ Little Sister programs are limited to third-graders and in two years, the first little sisters will be able to step on the stage as contestants, she added.

“What it’s all about is women mentoring women,” Nilsen-Wasson said. “It starts in third grade and once you’re part of the family, you’re always part of the family.”

As the pageant has grown, an added emphasis has been placed on academic achievement and providing contestants opportunities to further their education, she said.

“Our goal is for you to be able to at least get an AA degree and move on,” she said. “A lot of women start but don’t finish.”

Olympic College is once again providing three $1,000 scholarships for contestants wanting to attend the school.

The current Miss Poulsbo, Janna Murray, said the experiences she has enjoyed during her reign have been simply amazing.

“This has been a time for me to hone my skills and grow,” Murray told the 2006 contestants and little sisters.

Last year’s Miss Poulsbo first runner-up Brenna Gardner-Brown was bubbling with excitement throughout the event as she anxiously awaited the go-ahead to let her newest Little Sister, Makenna Cordoza, know who she was.

“I’m so excited and I’ve already been picking outfits,” Gardner-Brown said.

Gardner-Brown said she now has two Little Sisters and is looking forward to spending time with both of them together.

“My first Little Sister has the same birthday and now we all get to do things together,” she said.

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