June 16, 2004
Miss New Jersey contestants back for 9th year
By TOM WILLIAMS
For the ninth straight year, 25 of the most versatile young women in New
Jersey have gathered in Ocean City to determine which of them will represent
their state in September's Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.
The Miss New Jersey Pageant will hold its preliminaries Thursday and Friday
nights at the Music Pier, where it has been held since 1996, and then offer the
finals on Saturday night.
The festivities begin on Wednesday with a boardwalk parade that include all of
the contestants and the current Miss New Jersey, Jennifer Farrell of Margate.
Farrell, who was among the 15 quarter-finalists in last year's Miss America
Pageant, is featured in this weekend?s show. She was the first Miss Atlantic
County to ever win the state title and the second area woman in three years,
following Julie Barber of Vineland in 2001.
The 25 women who will compete in this year?s pageant are:
Erin Court Abrahamson, Miss Laurel Valley, a vocalist.
Samantha Brodton, 20, Miss Mays Landing, a lyrical dancer. Her platform is
AIDS Awareness and Education.
Serena Coleman, Miss Salem County, a dancer. Her platform is CADAA
(Children's Awareness of Drug and Alcohol Abuse).
Cricket Denton, Miss Shore Resort, an operatic vocalist. Her platform is
Service Learning - An Experimental Perception.
Gabrielle DeDomenicis, 17, Miss Columbus Day, a pianist.
Georgine DiMaria, 19, Miss Tri-County, a vocalist and violinist. Her platform is
Living with Asthma - Education, Advocacy and Support.
Atiya Easterling, Miss Central Coast.
Shannon Gallina, 21, Miss Vineland, a singer.
Stephanie Garland, 20, Miss Gloucester County, a lyrical dancer.
Jessica Greenberg, Miss Bergen County.
Christie Greer, 20, Miss Mainland, a vocalist. Her platform is Fearlessness,
Foundation, Familiarity and Femininity for Women.
Lauren Higgins, Miss Atlantic County, a singer.
Alana Iantuono, Miss Camden County, a dancer. Her platform is Domestic
Ronica Licciardello, Miss Smithville, an operatic singer.
Libby Montiel, 24, Miss Monmouth County, a classical pianist.
Jane Nordell, 23, Miss Gateway, a vocalist. Her platform is Diabetes
Awareness and Prevention.
Alissa Palladinetti, 23, Miss Champaign Springs, an operatic singer. Her
platform is Music Education.
Jennifer Panara, 20, Miss Garden Cities, an operatic singer. Her platform is
Building Self-Esteem in Our Youth.
Kristi Pawlus, 19, Miss Cape May County, a singer. Her platform is Giving
Elderly Help Through Music.
Julie Robenhymer, 23, Miss Ramapo Valley, a dancer. Her platform is Power
of Positive Thinking.
Christine Ritzius, 21, Miss Middlesex County Area, a singer. Her platform is
The Importance of Foster Care.
Erica Scanlon, Miss Brigantine Resort, a singer. Her platform is Autism
Diera Shaw, 22, Miss Stars and Stripes, a tap dancer. Her platform is PRIDE
(Productively Reducing Intolerance through Diversity Education).
Amina Wirjosemito, Miss Burlington County, a singer. Her platform is
Multicultural Opportunities for Children.
Heather Woods, Miss Cumberland County, a vocalist. Her platform is
The Importance of Mentoring.
Nine of those 25 young women were contestants in last year?s pageant. Shaw
was the 2003 first runner-up and has been in the New Jersey top five each of
the last three years. DiMaria was third runner-up last year and is making her
third straight appearance in the state pageant. Ritzius was in the top 10 last
year, Panara was in the top 10 in 2002, Montiel was in the NJ state pageant
last year and the Pennsylvania pageant in 2002 and Nordell is competing for
the third consecutive year.
Their experiences in the state pageant might give those young women a slight
edge. But there are others to watch.
Iantuono is competing in her first Miss New Jersey Pageant but she was part
of Miss Rhode Island the past five years, finishing in the top 10 all five times.
She was third runner-up last year and first runner-up in both 2002 and 2001.
Then there are two contestants who have won state titles in other pageant
competitions. Licciardello was New Jersey's Junior Miss in 2001 and finished
as first runner-up in the America's Junior Miss competition. And Abrahamson
was Miss Teen New Jersey during the 2001 Miss Teen USA Pageant.
You would think those with state pageant experience and success behind
them would have an advantage. But remember that Farrell became Miss
Atlantic County in her first pageant and then won the state title on her first try.
And other Miss New Jersey winners in recent years have come to the state
pageant with little experience.
So, maybe it's the 13 who are competing in a state pageant for the first time
that should be getting your pre-pageant attention.
Regardless, there are 25 young women in Ocean City this week and just one
of them will advance. That one will be the Garden State's representative in the
next Miss America Pageant.