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By Bev Odom
The Red River Sun
WELLINGTON — Family and friends watched in awe as Madison Waters took the title of the new Miss Wellington and a $1,000 scholarship from a field of 13 contestants on the stage of the Wellington High School auditorium. Presented by former Miss Wellingtons, mistress of ceremonies, Lana Tillman, welcomed the crowd to the 68th annual pageant at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2.
Waters is a senior at Wellington High School (WHS) and the daughter of B.J. and Landey Waters. First runner-up Madeleine Kane, a sophomore at WHS, is the daughter of Brian and Marnie Kane. The daughter of Lance and Deidre Kane, second runner-up Kyla Kane is also a senior. Third runner-up Summer Owens is a junior and the daughter of Steve and Lucy Owens. A sophomore, fourth runner-up Cortlyn McKinley is the daughter of Alicia and Rick Parks and Brad McKinley.
To open the evening, Tillman recognized veterans before 18-year-old Ariel Stone, of Childress, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the violin. Tillman presented the reigning Little Miss Wellington, Kenlea Martin, daughter of Justin Martin and Carrie West; Jr. Miss Wellington, Hartley Kane, daughter of Luke and Amanda Kane; and Teen Miss Wellington, Harlee Gomez, daughter of Pat and Christi Gomez.
Tillman introduced 2020 Miss Wellington, Dani Ponder, who took her place of honor on the stage to greet each contestant. Earlier in the afternoon, judges interviewed each contender as 50% of the total score. Stage presentation accounted for the other 50% of the total score.
The audience sat back and watched as the 13 contestants sauntered across the stage, while Tillman narrated each biography. Each competitor paused at a microphone, introduced herself and thanked her sponsor.
For entertainment while tabulators tallied scores, Stone performed two more violin selections and Eleisha Miller, of Amarillo, sang “At Last” by Etta James.
Other pageant contestants included Audrey Jones, Charley Wilbur, Kimberlynn Colwell, Arianna Pena, Marlene Jantes, Emily Robles, Saray Singh and Keylonia Shrubs.
In her farewell speech, Ponder expressed her appreciation. “Serving as Miss Wellington 2020 was truly a blessed experience, to be a role model to our youth,” she said.
Tillman thanked each Miss Wellington contestant and her sponsor, as well as individuals and businesses, who contributed items for the special top five gift bags.
“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.”
Ironically, the top three 2021 Miss Wellington winners are the great granddaughters of the late Art and Olyse Kane, and the granddaughters of their three sons, Rodney and Mary Lou Kane (Madison Waters), Larry and Debbie Kane (Madeleine Kane) and Steve and Teresa Kane (Kyla Kane).
For a special treat during the evening, Tillman recognized 2021 Ritz Theatre Tiny Tot winners as follows.
Kellyn Rose Conner, daughter of Jordan and Tucker Conner, and Prince John “PJ” Roland, son of Ella Roland and Gary Brown, infant to one-year-old division.
Gia Gayle O’Rear, daughter of Meagan O’Rear and Joe O’Rear, and Andrew Sky-Dan Hughs, son of Dana and Marcus Hughs, two-year-old division.
Adeline Reese Faulks, daughter of D’Lyn and Carson Faulks, and Camden Nash McDaniel, son of Corey and Jarrod McDaniel, three-year-old division.
Jenna Kate Faulks, daughter of D’Lyn and Carson Faulks, and Qaasen Alexander Pereira, son of Courtney Culpepper and Qaaim Pereira, four and five-year-old division.