Three Soldotna women received crowns, flowers and honors at the Mrs. Alaska pageant held May 12 in Anchorage.
Charlissa Magen was crowned 2001 Mrs. Alaska, the Mrs. Soldotna runner-up, Odette Pack, was awarded the Congeniality Award, and Barbara Johnson won the Outstanding Single Mom award for her commitment to family and community.
The Mrs. Alaska title grew from the Mrs. International pageant founded in 1985. The pageant highlights the accomplishments of today's married women.
Magen and Pack competed against six other married women from around the state. Magen said the competition was more than she imagined.
She described the event as fast-paced and did not have much time to fret about the pageant once she was there.
"The nervousness was cut short because you just did it," she said.
During the opening dance, Magen said, she could see many Soldotna residents cheering her, Pack and Johnson on.
"The audience's warmth was very helping," she said.
She said the aerobic wear competition, the portion where the women dress in a solid color aerobic outfit instead of a bathing suit, was easier than she thought, and it worked out well for her.
"As bold as some think my personality is, I am very humble and don't like to show off at all," she said, adding that the portion was just to show that the women kept physically fit.
After the aerobic wear portion was finished, Magen said, she felt more comfortable with the pageant.
"From then on, I said "this is going to be great."
The six women then changed into their evening wear, and Magen was told she was last on stage because her husband, Ned, had won the Most Supportive Husband award.
Once on stage, Magen stood next to her husband and read the winning essay to the audience.
Magen said the titles were then given to each of the contestants.
"The pageant did not want to eliminate any women in awards," she said.
Each woman's name was called until Magen and Mrs. South Anchorage were left standing. When Mrs. South Anchorage's name was called, Magen said for a split second she thought Mrs. South Anchorage was the winner, but then it dawned on her that she had won the title of Mrs. Alaska.
"It felt incredible," she said.
Pack said Magen was articulate and poised throughout the pageant.
"I think they picked the right person," Pack said.
From that moment on, crowds of people converged on the stage and the pageant was complete.
For the next year, Magen will make various area appearances, sporting both her crown and sash.
"I am just really open to appearances and promoting Mrs. Alaska," she said.
In August, Magen will travel to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to compete with 60 women from the United States and other countries for the title of Mrs. International. Magen said she is excited about that trip.
"My biggest thrill is that I am going to meet so many exciting women," she said. The winner of the Mrs. International competition will receive various gifts and cash prizes.
Another goal Magen has is to conduct a fund-raiser to find sponsors to place ads in the international pageant program.
The evening was full of winners.
Johnson, winner of the Outstanding Single Mom award, said she was grateful for the chance to attend the pageant. Though she is not a person who enjoys competition, she said, the pageant was nice because the element of competition was not prevalent.
Pack, the contestant who nominated Johnson, said she believed Johnson was well deserving of the award.
Johnson said God had a hand in her participation in the event and that she believes he was fond of the subject matter.
"With the divorce rate the ways it is, He is trying to put marriage where it belongs," she said.
Like marriage, children and all events in between, Magen said, the pageant was a new and interesting challenge.
"It is just another chapter in life," she said.
She also said she met other women she plans on keeping in touch with and had a special relationship with the ladies from Soldotna.
"I had a comradeship with Odie and Barbara," she added.
For all of the women, the pageant was a new experience that will be something to look back on.
Pack said she is not sure if she would compete again, but she would recommend the experience to someone looking for something new.
"I wanted to do something different," she said. "I was so surprised (about being chosen to compete), I didn't think they would pick me."
Magen said she will not compete in next year's pageant, but she will attend to hand her title to another well-deserving married Alaskan woman.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," she said. "If I could just touch one person and have them enter it, that is my reward."
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