Custom-rhinestone tiaras as tall as 10 inches had young ladies of all ages seeking the new titles at the inaugural Miss Copperas Cove Five Hills Scholarship Pageant that replaced the former Rabbit Fest Pageant.
Drawing 130 contestants and nearly 100 sponsors, the community service program did not miss a beat as it switched homes from the Chamber of Commerce to the Parks and Recreation Department and changed its name to reflect the city the titleholders represent.
On the expansive stage of Lea Ledger Auditoriumon Saturday, babies as young as 2 months old to senior citizens at the young age of 72 years sought the crown, but only 17 winners walked away with the titles bound for a year of community service in representing the City of Family Living.
The pageant this awarded $72,000 in scholarships and prizes.
Heidi Cortez, a mother of five children, won the title of Ms. Copperas Cove Five Hills and will spend her yearlong reign advocating for those with autism.
“I am overjoyed by this achievement,” Cortez said. “But I was definitely surrounded by women that were absolutely beautiful and their platforms were phenomenal. I am honored to wear this crown, but I am even more honored to have made new friends, stronger bonds between old friends, and to represent Copperas Cove and to deliver on my platform. Autism Awareness-Until All the Pieces Fit.”
As each contestant finished her performance on stage, she was greeted back stage by the other contestants with hugs and reassurances that she did a good job on stage. A camaraderie among the contestants had developed, said Mindy Brewster, a Realtor in Copperas Cove, who competed against Cortez, in the pageant. Her two daughters also participated in the contest.
“I truly enjoyed every single moment of it. Being able to laugh and dance and even the severe shaking we all experienced was incredible,” Brewster said. “I love how we are supportive of everything we all do. I miss the military life since my husband retired. I had a tribe, a village, which was always there for me. I had yet to find that since moving here and I hope that I can gain true friends with this experience.”
The pageant’s titleholders ages 9 and older are required to have a platform of service, a charity or cause, for which they will advocate over the next year. More than 50 different platforms were represented in the pageant ranging from stiff person syndrome to Keep Copperas Cove Beautiful to remembering the senior population.
The outgoing royalty accrued more than 5,000 hours of service through more than 250 appearances last year.
Ambassador Edith Natividad said it was bittersweet to relinquish her crown.
“I will miss my royalty queens working together, attending events and most of all doing community service with our platform,” Natividad said. “But, I had two wonderful years that will last a lifetime. I’m so blessed and so thankful that I had an opportunity to serve my community through the power of the crown.”