The joy for life, vibrancy and a sense of humor characterized the contestants in the Ms. Senior Mulberry Gardens Pageant 2018 held June 8. The women, whose ages ranged from 75 to 97 years old, all had advice for staying young. “Don’t stay home – keep active. Don’t act like an old lady,” said Helen Marshall, a Mulberry Gardens resident and contestant.
This was the ninth year of the pageant at the assisted living, memory care and adult day community, located at 58 Mulberry St. The event was created nine years ago to showcase the vitality of the residents and members of the adult day centers, including Marian Heights in New Britain.
The 2018 theme was “What a Wonderful World,” which many of the women had experienced firsthand. They were world travelers, held master’s degrees, were active in the arts, music and sports, and one even rode a camel.
For the second time, the pageant was emceed by Scot Haney, WFSB-3 meteorologist and co-host of Better Connecticut. His questions kept contestants and the audience laughing. When Marion Lewoc, a member of the Mulberry Gardens Adult Day Center, said her favorite song was “Ava Maria,” Haney broke out in song. Lewoc, a professional vocalist, told him that the next time he should start in a lower key.
Judges Kathy Faber, of Kathy Faber Designs, and Kimberly Beaudoin, Mrs. USA Universal 2016 were returning judges as Renee DiNino, iHeartMedia personality, joined the panel for the first time this year. “This pageant is one of my favorite events I’ve ever had the honor to be a part of as one of the judges. They were all winners in my book,” DiNino said. “I must say the love and kindness expressed by the staff at Mulberry Gardens almost made my heart burst with joy.”
After the judges’ discussion, Christine DeCarlo, Mulberry Gardens resident, was presented with the winner’s tiara and sash, which was draped across her black and silver shimmering gown. Judges, friends and staff gathered around her as she was handed a bouquet of pink roses.
Other honors were: Margaret Blake – first runner-up; Lorraine Ziel – second runner-up; Mary Lou Dolce – Best Hair; Marie Fleisher – Best Dressed; Marcia Jackie – Most Sophisticated; Loretta LaFreniere – Nicest Eyes; Marion Lewoc – Most Charming; Helen Marshall – Best Sense of Humor; Phyllis McCabe – Most Elegant; Barbara Munzu – Most Graceful; Christine Stylinski – Nicest Smile; and Mary Ann Terzak – Miss Congeniality.
Paula DePinto, director of finance for Hartford HealthCare Senior Services and head of the pageant committee, said the women were models of graceful aging, poise and confidence. She also thanked the contestant sponsors and event sponsors including Savers, which donated the pageant dresses, and Nyren’s for the flowers. Sponsors included Kevin’s Building & Remodeling, Giordano Cabinets, Harvest Medical, Perfect Temp and Richard Ziel. Supporters included Janet Headley, Lynda Kosky, Theresa Mueller, Valley Flooring and Worldwide Wines.
“The secret to staying young? Enjoy every day,” said Ziel.
Stop by for a tour of Mulberry Gardens of Southington, a not for profit assisted living, adult day and memory care community located at 58 Mulberry St. in the Plantsville section of Southington. For more information about Mulberry Gardens of Southington, a member of Hartford HealthCare Senior Services, visit mulberrygardens.org or call 860.276.1020.