“I was; I am so honored. I can’t even believe this,” said the Coshocton resident with a big smile on her face moments after the scholarship competition ended Saturday night.
Miller, the daughter of Matthew and Valerie, said sees a resemblance between her “really small town” and Norwalk, which hosted Miss Maple City at Main Street Intermediate School.
“I care so much about veterans in the community and I do believe that the best relationships are established on the community level and I do hope to establish that here,” she said.
Her grandfather, Tom Miller, served in the U.S. Navy in the Vietnam War. His granddaughter, a classically trained pianist, dedicated her performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to him. Madison Miller’s platform is “raising awareness for the fight against veteran suicide.”
“He was a proud Navy man,” Miss Maple City 2020 said, referring to her grandfather. “Because of him, I have grown up with an appreciation of veterans. It’s always been, ‘Thank your veterans, thank the people (who) allow you to come up and present yourself and do what you want to do.’ Having that from an young age definitely has made an impact.”
Miller won a $500 scholarship, a night of lodging at Econo Lodge in Norwalk, breakfast at 1946 Berry’s Restaurant and a photo session with Moll Photography. Also, she won a night’s stay in a “desert room” at Kalahari. Kim and Shaun Kanary donated the sash and crown while Miller’s floral bouquet was from Betschman's Flowers on Main.
In June, Miller will represent Norwalk at the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program in Mansfield.
‘Good time’ at competition
Seton High School student Lucabella LaEace was crowned the 2020 Miss Maple City Outstanding Teen on Saturday.
“I competed a couple weeks ago and I didn’t win obviously. I was really nervous and I put a lot of pressure on myself today and I decided at one point I was just gonna have fun and let go because it was in God’s hands,” said the winner of a $100 scholarship.
LaEace said she admittedly “was so shocked” to be the winner of the teen competition, partly because she “had a couple mistakes” during her jazz dance performance. Her mindset of having fun helped her thoughout Saturday’s event.
“You’ve been preparing for this so long, you know exactly what you’re doing. Your body knows what you’re doing; it’s just time to let go,” said LeEace, who wanted to look back at Miss Maple City as “a good time” and an opportunity to make many friends instead of focusing on what went wrong.
“I’ve made so many connections — and that’s what I’m really happy about,” she added.
“I’m really happy to be going back to Miss Ohio, but more importantly I get to share my social impact intitiative, which is ‘Be happy, be healthy, be you.’ (I want to) encourage teens and youths today to be the healthiest persons themselves through food, fitness and fun, teaching them to be healthy. … It doesn’t have to be boring; it can actually be a lot of fun.”
Confidence, giving ‘100 percent’
The first runner-up to Miss Maple City 2020 was Brooke Young, of Mansfield, who won a $200 scholarship. The second runner-up, Amanda Freel, of Reading, Ohio, received a $100 scholarship.
“I was so very shocked because I really don’t have a background in pageantry. This is all very new to me, but throughout the evening I felt so confident and so at peace with everything in all phases of the competion,” said Young, who sang “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid.”
“I was so excited to sing my song; it just reflected my personality offstage,” added Young, who had sung it earlier to a chronically ill child as part of the Make-A-Wish program. “It was really, really meaningful to me to be able to share that song with everyone in a different way (Saturday). I enjoyed the interview too.”
The Ashland University student said she “tried to make peace with everything” as the event progressed. She added she wanted to better herself, both professionally and personally, which helped “my true self and my true effervescent personality shine through.”
Freel performed a ventriloquism act, using an Elvis Presley puppet to sing “Hound Dog.” Since her microphone wasn’t functioning properly the first time, the University of Cincinnati and Shawnee State University graduate was allowed to repeat her performance for new scores.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking. I put my whole heart out there and I wanted to do 100 percent. I felt having that mic not on wasn’t me (at) 100 percent. I think it was the right move and I think everyone supported that,” she said.
“When I came back out there, I was kinda nervous (and wondered) if the audience was gonna go, ‘Is this girl really doing this again?’ But they cheered me on and I was so happy to get that.”
Freel has studied ventrilosquism for less than a year. After a dental surgery to correcting her bite forced her jaw to be wired shut for a time, she said she wanted to be Miss America, so she contacted Kimberly Miller, who performed a ventriloquism act as a Miss Ohio runner-up contestant years ago, to get lessons.
“I put it all together and here we are,” Freel added.
Brooke Howard, of New Albany, was the talent winner. She won a $100 scholarship for her Irish dance performance to “Lord of the Dance.”
Miss Ohio 2019, Caroline Grace Williams, was one of the many pageantry celebrities in attendance Saturday. Also there was Jackie Mayer, Miss America 1963, who also was Miss Ohio and Miss Maple City the previous year.
“I always say it’s only a competition against yourself,” said Williams, who believes the contestants learn such skills as “thinking on your feet,” interview experience and public speaking. “When you think of it that way, it’s a win-win situation.”
Williams will compete for the title of Miss America, which will air Dec. 19 on NBC.