Written by Cathy Finnegan Sunday, March 23, 2014 12:00 am
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The Hughes Performing Arts Center rocked when 14 Ocean City High School students hit the stage to compete for the title of Mr. OCHS. Cheryl Clearkin took time out from collecting tickets to wave to this columnist as I walked by to join fellow judges, Pete Madden, Michael Martirone and Megan Maguire, at the judges table in front of the stage.
Megan graduated Ocean City High School in 2008 and, as a cheerleader, helped with the Mr. OCHS contest. She now teaches kindergarten in the Czech Republic. Riley Madden accompanied her father to her first Mr. OCHS pageant and freshmen Sadie Ford and Alyssa Altieri lucked out and got seats in the second row.
Sue and Don Doll joined family members of contestants in the front rows to cheer for their favorites. The Dolls were on hand to watch their grandsons accompany their cousin, Justin Price, in the opening number. Kathy Sykes and Brenda Colon-Smith stopped by to give the judges instructions before returning to check on the chaos backstage. Aaron Bogushefsky did the artwork on the program cover and Greg Wheeldon was poised and ready to record the show for posterity.
Steven Trauger and the technical crew handled lighting for the show. The audience cheered as the lights dimmed and John Bruno, who served as master of ceremonies again this year – a job it’s obvious he loves to do – walked on stage and introduced student hosts Brooke Hoffner and Skylar Green.
Contestants made their entrance parading down the aisles in tuxedos donated by MWTux tuxedo rental in the Hamilton Mall and Formal Dimensions on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township. AJ Mirallegro was escorted by his mom and he planted a kiss on her cheek when they reached the stage. Pat Migliaccio escorted her great grandson, Dylan DiMeglio, while Brendon MacFarlane was escorted by his grandmother, Nicollette Mirra. Kevin Smith joined us at the judge’s table to tally the scores after he participated in the opening number.
Playing the bachelor, Jake Newsome was escorted by three girls, but only one received the coveted rose from him. Mike Barrett was escorted by the school mascot and admitted he was a fan of Heath Ledger.
Paul Stanton had quite an entourage escort him: two lifeguards, a policeman, fireman and EMT and more. Parker Guariglia garnered laughs when he split the seat of his tuxedo pants and had to resort to wearing black stretch tights with his jacket. Frank Woolley was the only contestant sporting tails and carried a large picture of himself.
Contestants showed off their versatility with the opening dance routine taught to them by choreographers Kylie Clearkin and Hannah Eiler. Kylie Clearkin wore a midnight blue evening gown as she assisted John Bruno with the personality interviews. When asked about his first kiss, Dan Reinhold said it was from a sea lion. Paul Stanton wants to play Division I football and be retired by age 40 while Kevin Birk likes to bake cookies with his mom, even bribing the judges with samples of his treats.
A couple of contestants took this opportunity to ask their dates to the prom and presented them with bouquets of flowers. Following the fitness competition, contestants showed off their talent with Kevin Wiesner lip syncing “Grease Lighting” with a large backup. Dennis Neville tried to break the Guinness World Record with number of kicks to the head he could do in a minute. Megan Bologno, Julia Meyers, Holly McCrosson and Sarah Prosser were busy striking the stage and setting it up again for each contestant’s talent competition.
The casual wear competition brought some wild outfits to the stage with my personal favorite being Jake Newsome in his ABBA “Dancing Queen” rhinestone-studded platform shoes, bell bottom pants and bright colored silky sheer jacket. Jake Cassidy appeared as his favorite superhero while Justin Price sported a yellow hard hat with his work shorts, suspenders and tool belt, complete with large tape measure.
Filling time while contestants changed back into their tuxes, John Bruno read the list of prizes for the winners collected by the cheerleaders from local merchants. After another dance routine by contestants, they lined up on stage to await the judges decision and John Bruno milked this as he took his sweet time with the announcements.
Contestants voted Dylan DiMeglio as Mr. Congeniality. Mike Barrett was third runner-up, Kevin Birk was second runner-up, Parker Guariglia was first runner-up and Paul Stanton was crowned Mr. OCHS.
The court and all the contestants enjoyed posing for pictures on stage after the competition. Miss Ocean City Carley Del Sordo, home from St. Joe’s on spring break, enjoyed the fun with her sister, Miss Snowflake Samantha Del Sordo, and friend Shannon Wallace. Nicollette Mirra was beaming when she posed for pictures with her grandson and told me she recently became a great grandmother. Now that’s hard to believe.
This columnist had the pleasure of attending the commissioning of the USS Somerset (LPD 25) at Penn’s Landing. Our resident admiral, Ron Denney, was able to secure tickets for this event and Jim and I were fortunate enough to be invited.
We arrived at the Hyatt at Penn’s Landing with Beverly and Ron Denney and caught up with Warren Iredell in the lobby. We were enjoying a reception when Linda and Bill Parker and Donna and Joe Moore arrived and rounded out our group.
I was admiring all the brass on a uniform when a Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, walked up to tell Jim how much he liked his sweater, a navy cable knit with a small gold globe and anchor Marine Corps emblem on the left over Jim’s heart. I didn’t get a chance to get his picture with Jim as Ron hurried us off to our seats for the ceremony.
We joined 7,000 attendees in front of the massive ship with flags and pennants flying on this bright sunny morning with the Navy band playing patriotic music. Following remarks from distinguished platform guests, the placing of the Somerset in commission, assuming of command, setting of the first watch, manning of the ship and bringing her to life, the ship was open for tours.
The Somerset, whose namesake represents the heroic actions of the 40 crew members and passengers of the United Airlines Flight 93, honors their collective sacrifice and courage displayed in the face of overwhelming adversity. Steel used in the ship’s construction came from the rubble of the World Trade Center along with steel taken from the Pentagon after 9/11 attacks. Our group enjoyed lunch at the Hyatt then returned to the Somerset to take the tour and chat with the servicemen and women on board.