Forty-two young ladies will take center stage at the Krist Kindl Markt on Saturday as they vie for one of eight crowns in the second annual Krist Kindl Charity Pageant which benefits the Mitochondria Foundation this year with 100 percent of the proceeds going to fight the deadly children’s disease.

The number of pageant contestants jumped by over 25 percent from last year, said Kayla West, the reigning Young Miss Rabbit Fest, who is heading up the event as her community service project. Last year, there were 30 contestants.

“We are excited to have so many contestants to help in the fight against mitochondrial disease,” West said. “What an exciting way to kick off the holiday season of giving through their participation in this charity pageant where we give everything the pageant raises to charity.”

The Miss Krist Kindl Charity Pageant welcomes girls from infants to seniors to compete for crowns custom-made to look like Kris Kringle, the festival’s namesake. The newly crowned royalty will also receive double satin embroidered banners and bouquets of flowers from Michele’s Floral and Gifts.

Immediately after the pageant, the Krist Kindle Markt royalty will ride in the Copperas Cove Christmas Parade on a float provided by the pageant committee.

Rabbit Fest royalty spent their Thanksgiving holiday break in service to veterans, first fluffing and then helping to place more than 4,000 wreaths at gravesites at the Central Texas Veterans Cemetery.

For Senior Ms. Rabbit Fest Robin Scheafnocker, it was an especially somber act of service.

“Laying the wreaths at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery was an emotional experience,” Scheafnocker said. “As family members (of a veteran buried at the cemetery), Mom and I were allowed to go first and lay a wreath for Dad. The gesture brought tears and emotions because we miss him so much, especially at this time of year.”

Ms. Rabbit Fest Trish Stutz is a military spouse whose husband recently returned from deployment. The volunteer service was also emotional for her.

“I was in tears seeing all the people who came to lay wreaths on the graves of our fallen soldiers,” Stutz said. “As I carried each wreath, I couldn’t help but cry and be grateful for our veterans and their service to our country.”

The royalty also supported small businesses in Cove during Small Business Saturday with visits to several local establishments including Michele’s Floral and Gifts where they greeted customers, handing out Small Business Saturday materials and added to the festivities.

The royalty also assisted with the breast cancer awareness event at Decor and More and supported the grand opening of the new USO at Fort Hood.

In royal sightings, look for the royalty to be judges at the snow globe contest during the city’s tree lighting event and the Chamber of Commerce business decorating contest, to produce the Krist Kindl Pageant, to host the Krist Kindl Markt gingerbread house competition and to ride in the city Christmas Parade.

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