RALEIGH — Glitz, lights and glamour were on the menu last week in Raleigh when 41 young women from around North Carolina converged for the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen competition. Anna Grace Allen represented Bladenboro, and, though she didn’t bring home the title, she does have mixed feelings about the denouement of the adventure.
“I felt surprisingly satisfied that it was over, kind of relaxed,” said Allen. “I thought I would be heartbroken, because my interview and talent were strong, and so many people told me that I was going to win, but, when it was over, I didn’t feel that way. I thought, ‘Wow. This was a really awesome experience.’ How many other girls can say they made 40 new friends in one week?”
The field of 41 Outstanding Teens each competed in private interview, lifestyle and fitness, talent and evening gown, and on-stage question competitions.
Though it was not part of the tabulated scores, each contestant was also required to have a charitable platform, for which Allen created the “Sock it to ‘em” campaign, an effort to collect what she learned was one of the most needed items in homeless shelters — socks.
The Bladen Journal assisted Allen with her platform, holding a month-long sock drive — and that campaign, together with her other efforts, collected upwards of 2,100 pairs of socks, which Allen has already distributed.
“They’re all over,” said Allen. “Some are in Haiti, some are in Georgia, and some are right down the road.”
For her talent, Allen sang an operatic piece called O Del Mio Colce Ardor.
“I can honestly say that this year, they weren’t looking for somebody like me,” said Allen. “They weren’t looking for an opera singer who wanted to be an architectural designer — they were looking for a Broadway singer. All the judges had a background in musical theater or dance, so that’s what they were looking for, just like I would lean toward somebody who sang opera.
“I sang that song the best I’ve ever sung it. It really was like nobody else was in the room. That was those five judges on that certain week, and next year, who knows? It might be a better mix, and they might love it.”
She added, “It wasn’t in God’s plan for me to win this year, and I couldn’t think of a more deserving girl (than winner Catherine White). The judges made a good decision, and that’s all that matters.”
Allen reported that, throughout the week, her typical day involved going to bed around 1 a.m. and awakening at 7 a.m., with the encapsulated time so full that she barely had time to eat. In addition, because she is a singer, she avoided dairy products that would coat her throat and alter her sound. So what are her immediate plans?
“As soon as it was over, I had chocolate chip waffles, and it was amazing,” she said, laughing. “I’m still trying to catch up on a good meal. It’s like I’ve been in the desert.
“And sleep,” she added. “I haven’t slept in all summer.”
The top five contestants in the Miss Outstanding Teen competition are as follows:
— Fourth runner-up: Isabella Gaines, Miss Goldsboro
— Third runner-up: Megan Huff, Miss Moore County
— Second runner-up: Meri-Morgan Lochner, Miss Cumberland County
— First runner-up: Aliza Matthews, Miss Eastern Carolina
— 2016 Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen: Catherine White, Miss Clayton
The Miss North Carolina pageant ran concurrently with the Miss North Carolina Outstanding Teen, and Haven Chaswell represented Bladenboro. McKenzie Faggart, Miss Mecklenburg County, took home the crown for the competition.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.