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Beauty pageants slated in Massena and Watertown

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North country babies and children will be dressed to the nines today during the annual Sunburst Beauty Pageant.

The first show, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will be held in the center court of the St. Lawrence Centre mall, Massena, and the second will be from 6 to 8 p.m. in the center court at the Salmon Run Mall, Watertown.

Theresa R. Spooner, founder and executive director of Sunburst USA Inc., said she started the company and pageants in Florida 36 years ago and branched out across the nation a few years later. She’s been holding the pageants in Northern New York for about 32 years.

“Everybody loves to have their children in something fun and exciting,” Mrs. Spooner said. “What little girl doesn’t love to get dressed up?”

Mrs. Spooner said the pageant will consist of 11 different age groups, including children younger than 1 year old and toddlers. Boys and girls will be judged separately. Older girls will be judged in the following age categories: 4 to 6, 7 to 10, 11 to 13, 14 to 17 and 18 to 27.

Mrs. Spooner said there are usually seven or eight children in each group who all dress to impress.

“It really builds self-esteem,” she said. “I’ve watched many girls from this area grow up in pageants and go on to be very successful. So, it’s a fun, happy, family, wholesome event.”

The contestants will walk across a stage set up in each mall, and parents will carry their infant contestants.

Mrs. Spooner said there will be four professional judges at each location who are involved in modeling, talent or cosmetic agencies across the state.

Finalists will go on to the state finals in May in Utica, where the top scorers will win a $1,000 savings bond.

“We’re always looking for cute, new faces,” Mrs. Spooner said.

Contestants can register by 10 a.m. today for the Massena pageant and by 5 p.m. for the one in Watertown.

Contestants also can register online at www.sunburstbeauty.com or call 352-429-4324.

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