The Pryor Times

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July 3, 2014

Little Miss Pryor alums won’t ‘Let It Go’

Pryor Times — When the Little Miss Pryor pageant threatened to end, two past winners couldn't let it go.

The pageant has a 41-year history, beginning in 1972, never missing a pageant until 2013.

“The pageant has been directed by the Xi Gamma Omicron sorority, which disbanded in 2013 so the pageant was not held,” said Paula Cantrell, a past Little Miss Pryor winner.

Cantrell said the sorority owns the Little Miss Pryor name, and did not want to surrender the pageant to anyone wanting to make it into a local version of the reality television show Toddlers and Tiaras.

“They wanted someone to honor their tradition. Since Lesa Wolfe and I are both past winners, they said they'd let us take it over,” said Cantrell. “We want to honor what they started, and what Pryor has come to love.”

While keeping the spirit of the event, Cantrell and Wolfe said they are making a few minor changes this year.

Cantrell and Wolfe have decided to incorporate is a short entertainment piece by the contestants. The duo, much to the delight of little girls everywhere, selected Frozen as this year's theme. The routine will be done to the hit song “Let it Go.”

“We're going to have them do the motions to a short song, they all love, as a group. We will even put a video of the routine on our website so contestants can familiarize themselves with it ahead of time, maybe lessen their nerves a little,” said Cantrell.

The event will still be held in the Pryor High School Auditorium, though now the pageant is on a Saturday afternoon rather than a weekday to lessen the stress on pageant parents.

The pageant is set for 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 25, and sign-ups begin Sept. 1. The first 30 girls to sign up, with five alternates, will be allowed in the pageant. Cantrell said coordinators are taking five alternates because a rule that contestants have to attend rehearsal to be allowed in the pageant often creates vacancies.

Sign-ups will be available on the pageant's website, www.mchope.com, and a confirmation notice will be sent to the 30 contestants.

“We're keeping with their tradition, the pageant will still be casual but cute. This is a chance for girls to dress in something that makes them feel pretty and special,” said Cantrell. “This isn't Toddlers and Tiaras, we don't want girls looking older than they are. We want to see their-bright eyed innocence and personality.”

Cantrell said the pageant has a strict “no makeup allowed” policy.

To make it easier on the contestants, 15 contestants will take the stage at a time divided by a short intermission.

“Since the pageant is for four- and five-year-olds, they get a little antsy sitting on stage for that long so we're going to break it up a little,” said Cantrell.

In the past contestants filled out a short bio sheet that was read aloud while they were on stage.

“Our plan is to ask the girls easy little questions on stage so judges can get a better since of their personalities, since that's what the pageant is all about,” said Cantrell.

The pageant will serve as a fundraiser for underprivileged kids in Pryor.

Registration for contestants is $10, and in addition Cantrell said the pageant will have crowd-pleaser boxes that will serve to raise funds as well.

Cantrell serves as the school-based social worker through the Department of Human Services. In that capacity, she will use the funds to introduce under-priveleged students to new experiences, broadening their world view. She said the outings will be everything from cultural experiences to character-building. All funds are being processed through the non-profit Mayes County Hope Coalition.

The contestants get something out of the experience as well.

“In the past the winner received a savings bond, crown, basket, banner and a trophy. Little Miss Pryor also appears in the Pryor Christmas parade,” said Cantrell, adding that by naming a first-, second- and third-runner-up, plus goody bags for all contestants, the non-finalists typically don't notice they're going home without a title.

Cantrell and Wolfe said they're relying on community involvement and donations to make the pageant a success.

“I think this pageant is a confidence booster. It shows the girls they can feel good about themselves, feel special, without having to dress beyond their years or wear makeup. And it's a Pryor tradition, people that have lived here a long time appreciate that,” said Cantrell.

During the planning months Cantrell and Wolfe are looking for donations from individuals or businesses in addition to sending out a call for help to past Little Miss Pryor winners who could lend a hand in setting up or tearing down the pageant.

Tax deductible donations can be made to Mayes County Hope Coalition, P.O. Box 1364, Pryor, OK, 74632 or by contacting Cantrell at 918-825-8100 or 918-373-1360.

The pageant is open to girls aged four or five, by Oct. 1, who live in or attend school/daycare in Pryor.

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