Miss Nevada, runner up give fashion preview

photo by Brad HornChristina O'Neil models western wear at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall Saturday.

photo by Brad HornChristina O'Neil models western wear at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall Saturday.

Miss Nevada Christina O'Neil modeled the outfit she will wear in the Miss America Pageant parade before her hometown crowd Saturday.

Tiny lights sparkled on her white cowgirl hat and boots as she strutted onto the stage in a wedding gown with fringed, triangular shoulders.

"Here Christina combines Western flavor with the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas," said emcee JP Molnar. "Well, no one's going to think you're from Hawaii."

O'Neil, crowned June 28 at the Elko Convention Center, displayed the silver "Nevada" embroidered across her back.

"Part of the parade is at night," she said. "We want to make sure Nevada is seen."

She and her first runner up, Miss Nevada Sweetheart Chelsea Bibb, also Miss University of Nevada, Reno, gave their fans a preview at the Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall of the fashions they'll wear in upcoming pageants. They are both from Carson City.

Audience members paid an entry fee and cast bids on silent auction items to help raise funds for the pair's travel expenses.

Bibb, 22, will leave for her pageant, a competition for the first runners up from each state, on Monday.

"I'll have to miss my first week of school but it's OK -- I cleared it with all of my teachers," said the UNR journalism major. "I got all my assignments and they're all really excited for me."

She'll go up against the 49 other Miss Sweethearts in talent and "platform" competitions during a pageant held in conjunction with the National Sweet Corn Festival in Illinois.

"Talent and platform are really what the program is about, instead of it being just a beauty pageant," said Brenda Willey, executive director of the Miss Nevada Organization.

Bibb, wearing a "resplendent cranberry-colored halter top swimsuit" and high heels, described her platform as working with Service for Sight to improve the quality of life for people without vision.

O'Neil, 24, strolled out next in a silver-studded black dress and described her platform.

"I'm working to end teen-dating violence," she said. "This is something that's close to my heart."

A survivor of teen dating violence herself, she said she hopes girls in this community and across the nation can learn from her story.

"I want to share my experience because I think it gives me credibility," she said.

During her trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in Miss America, O'Neil will visit with American troops, have lunch with Tom Daschle and his wife and hopefully spend time with President George Bush.

"I think G.W. will have some time for the girls," Molnar said. "After all they're representing the United States all over the world. There's going to be millions and millions of people watching you Christina --Ebut don't be nervous."

The fashion show started with a classical-opera performance of the national anthem by Miss Winnemucca, Felicia Routson. Crowned two weeks ago, she'll represent all of Humboldt County and compete in the Miss Nevada competition in June.

"She could be our next Miss Nevada," Willey said.

Routson's platform is breast cancer awareness.

"I chose breast cancer awareness as my platform because my mother, Karol Routson, passed away from breast cancer in 1994," said the 17-year-old.

Dance performances also added to the wardrobe preview Saturday.

Seven girls from Gina Kaskie Davis' Western Nevada Performing Arts dance group were all smiles when they did "Pin Striped Suit," a number they have been working on for a year. "They've won high point awards for it (at previous performances in Sacramento, San Francisco and Las Vegas)" said Kaskie Davis.

Both O'Neil and Bibb spoke about their connection to the capital of Nevada.

"I'm proud to be from Carson City," said O'Neil, who has taken a job as a music teacher at Empire Elementary School. "It's an amazing community to have grown up in and now to be teaching in this district is really neat."

She'll compete for the title of Miss America, a title no Nevadan has ever won, on Sept. 20. It will be broadcast live on ABC.


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