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By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON — Dani Ponder, a senior at Wellington High School, was named Miss Wellington 2020 among a field of 14 contestants on the stage of the WHS auditorium.
As a scholarship pageant, Ponder received a $1,000 scholarship with her title.
A long tradition, Miss Wellington 1995 Amy Chauveaux Inman welcomed the crowd for the 67th annual scholarship pageant Saturday, Oct. 24.
The community crowned the first Miss Wellington, Tanya Smith, in 1953.
“Changes have evolved over the years, like contestants wearing pageant dresses instead of Easter dresses, the contest in the fall of the year as opposed to the spring, and not only a crown but also scholarships and gift bags being awarded to the winners,” Inman said.
Currently a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves, Ethan Cole sang the National Anthem preceded by recognition of veterans.
Master of ceremonies Lesa White Thornberry, 1985 Miss Wellington, presented reigning Miss Wellington Marlee Brown, and introduced senior escorts Sammy McLain, Mason Folk, Gavin Wood, Jayden Castillo and John Ramirez.
Earlier in the day, three Amarillo area judges interviewed each contestant for 50 percent of their score. That evening, Thornberry introduced each young woman as each walked the stage, also 50 percent of the score. The contestants, and their sponsors, were:
• Cortlyn McKinley, Greenbelt Mini Storage
• Kenna Darrow, SOS From Texas
• Arianna Pena, Pilgrim Bank
• Dani Ponder, Wellington Lions Club
• Kyla Kane, Tri County Co-op Gin
• Summer Owens, Wellington Tractor Parts
• Audrey Jones, Wellington State Bank
• Marlene Jantes, OJD Engineering
• Sicily Sumrall, JD’s Auto Supply & Repair
• Madison Waters, Greenbelt Electric Cooperative
• Juliana Castaneda, Farmers Co-op Society #1
• Emma Kane, Priority Ultrasound Services
• Shelby Phillips, Angel’s Subs & Sweets
• Abby Garcia, A&K Meat Processing
For entertainment, Wellington Elementary fourth graders Libby Chandler and Ava Peters and third grader Ava Kate Inman performed “Live Your Story” under the direction of Sharon and Kacy’s School of Dance.
Vocalist Ethan Cole took the stage again, this time accompanied by his wife, guitarist Abby Brewer Cole. The couple performed a selection of songs. A fiddle player as well, Ethan showcased his many talents.
Thornberry and the Miss Wellington Scholarship Committee presented Brown her 2019 Miss Wellington portrait prior to her farewell walk and pre-recorded message.
“In our program is a list of sponsors and gift bag contributors,” Thornberry said. “These businesses continue to support the Miss Wellington pageant year after year. We have again been so honored by our area merchants who so graciously give to the Miss Wellington Scholarship Pageant. We want to express our gratitude to those who sponsor a contestant, give monetarily, give gift certificates and special chosen gifts.”
In addition to scholarships, the top five contestants receive gift bags containing over $500 in special gifts and over $150 in gift certificates.
Before announcing the top five winners, Thornberry thanked the contestants for participating in the pageant.
“These girls have spent a lot of time filling out paperwork, finding the perfect dress and rehearsing for tonight’s pageant,” Thornberry said. “It takes a lot of courage to stand before a crowd, and these ladies have done an outstanding job tonight.”
Thornberry announced the winners and congratulated each contestant.
“We want to thank everyone for attending our pageant tonight,” she said. “Our scholarship awards are only made possible by donations from former Miss Wellingtons, sponsors and from each of you through our ticket sales.”