VFW Post 3693 crowns 2017 queens

Brandie Richardson
2017 Miss VFW and Teen VFW

It was an exciting weekend for the Gonzales Memorial VFW Post 3693 as they crowned their 2017 queens that will represent their post for the next year. More than 20 contestants from ages three months to 17 years old competed for the titles of Buddy Poppy and Baby, Toddler, Tiny, Little, Deb, Junior, Teen and Miss VFW on Saturday at the Orleans Room in Gonzales.

Walking away from the pageant sporting the title of 2017 Teen Miss VFW was 15-year-old Hanah Hamilton, who also earned the title of Best Fashion. Hamilton attends Live Oak High School, where she is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Reach Club, which helps kids with special needs, and is a part of the youth group at her church.

"I think this title will boost my self-confidence a lot, being around a lot of people and going from event to event," Hamilton said. "I think it's going to help me build a lot of character and teach me things about myself that I didn't know."

The seasoned pageant competitor has been in over 10 pageants, where she has come in first runner-up numerous times. Last month, she competed in the Paint Me Pretty pageant in Walker and earned the title of Supreme, the highest title given in the pageant.

This was her second year competing in the VFW pageant. Last year, she did not place in her division, but instead of giving up, she made the decision to compete again this year and not give up on her dreams of competing.

"I am going to have a fun time serving and doing these events for the veterans and showing that we are thankful for them," the teen queen added.

2016 VFW Queen Jordyn Blazier gracefully handed the reins as queen to 17-year-old Destinee Mitchell from Dutchtown High School. Blazier encouraged her fellow queen to enjoy her reign, representing the veterans of Ascension Parish.

"Take this title and own it," Blazier said. "Give the veterans the voices they need, be their light. These men and women deserve so much more recognition than we give, and for that, I was so humbled to be a part of an organization that did so much for them."

This is Mitchell's third title she has won. She is currently the reigning 2016 Teen Miss Jambalaya Queen. Though, she will hand down her title in May, and the Miss Ascension Parish Teen USA.

The pageant queen said that holding the title of Miss VFW is a great honor because she is able to represent her hometown and the veterans organization.

"To win the Miss VFW pageant, I am getting to represent Gonzales at the state pageant, and that means a lot to me," Mitchell said. "Not only that, but I am getting to represent our veterans who have served our country and that means a lot to me, too."

Mitchell added that competing in beauty pageants has helped her tremendously by helping her grow as a young adult and teaching her about the pageant world and her community. By holding a title, she has gotten the opportunity to participate in many community service projects, serve the community at many events, such as Habitat for Humanity, Boo at the Badge during Halloween and hand out jambalaya and hot chocolate to children at the Gonzales Christmas Tree Lighting.

"Having that title [Teen Miss Jambalaya] gave me so many opportunities to be able to volunteer in our community. It helped me improve myself as an individual. Winning pageants has given me a platform and a way to serve. It's been an overall positive thing and helped build my confidence and has gotten me involved in Ascension Parish."

The Dutchtown senior will graduate in May and plans on pursuing a degree in Psychology, where she aspires to become a child and adolescent physiologist.

"The VFW is a great cause, supporting our veterans. I absolutely love Gonzales; it's my hometown, and I love the organization [VFW]. I thought this would be a great experience to get myself into."

Both queens encourage girls of all ages to participate in pageants because it gets them involved in their community and helps boost their self-esteem.

The pageant also saw a number of visiting queens from across the state representing their parishes and titles, such as the Louisiana Veterans Association Queen, the 2016 Teen Miss Boucherie, queens from VFW Post 8538 and 3750 and the Louisiana Relay for Life Queen.

Other title holders from the pageant include: Anniston Lott as Baby Miss, Lyrie Ferry as Toddler Miss, Ariel Perrilloux as Tiny Miss, Skylar Alyce' Chalmers as Little Miss, Jocelyn Marie Chalmers as Buddy Poppy, Bella Ruth Babin as Deb Miss and Emily Kathryn Dugas as Junior Miss.