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 Wednesday night parade starts Miss New Jersey week Wednesday night parade starts Miss New Jersey week

Miss New Jersey is coming to town.

The festivities begin with the boardwalk parade Wednesday, June 13. Twenty-five young women will be in Ocean City for the 17th consecutive year and the state titleholder will be selected on the Music Pier Saturday, June 16. The preliminary competitions are set for Thursday and Friday.

The theme of Wednesday’s parade is “Nursery Rhymes Travel the Boards.” The contestants will ride in convertibles and portraying characters from various nursery rhymes.

Twenty-three-year-old Lindsey Petrosh of Egg Harbor Township, Miss Atlantic County, selected “Mary, Mary Quite Contrary”; 18-year-old Kaitlyn Schoeffel of Egg Harbor Township, Miss Avalon, decided on “Winter”; 20-year-old Jennifer Taylor of Millville, Miss Cape May County, chose “Ride a Strong Horse”; and 20-year-old Anna Negron of Vineland, Miss Coastal Shore, opted for “Jack Be Nimble.”

Also, 19-year-old Samantha Mason of Vineland, Miss Cumberland County, picked “Ickle, Ockle, Blue Buckle”; 18-year-old Lindsey Giannini of Hammonton, Miss Gloucester County, preferred “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”; 18-year-old Cierra Kaler-Jones of Galloway Township, Miss Northern Lakes, selected “Mary Had A Little Lamb”; 22-year-old Angelica Nardi of Millville, Miss Seashore Line, will be “Little Bo Peep”; and 20-year-old Courtney Fairfield of Egg Harbor Township, Miss South Shore Area, chose “Eensy Weensy Spider.”

The parade will start 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night at Sixth Street and will proceed down the boardwalk to 14th Street. The march will also include floats featuring Little Miss Ocean City Cassidy Diamond and Junior Miss Ocean City Kylie Clearkin. Miss Ocean City Brenna Carnuccio will ride in a Beach Patrol lifeboat. The lineup also includes marching groups from the Arts of Gymnastics and Cheer, Rising Stars Dance Troupe, Brownie Troop 14332 and the Hammonton Marching Band.

Nine of the 25 young women competing this year live in Atlantic or Cumberland counties. There is nobody from Cape May County in the linueup, which is rare. Even Miss Cape May County comes from Millville and Miss Avalon from Egg Harbor Township. That is because those pageants are “open,” meaning their contestants do not need any special connection to the county and must only meet Miss New Jersey requirements.

The current Miss New Jersey is 19-year-old Katharyn Nicolle of Wenonah. She will lead the Wednesday night parade and be involved in the pageant shows on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Beginning on Thursday night, each of the women will be judged on talent, swimsuit and evening wear. They will also each meet with the panel of judges for a private interview, which is also part of the competition. A good part of the interview is based on the platform issues that the women select. The 10 who score the most points in the preliminaries will compete Saturday for the Miss New Jersey title.

If there’s a favorite, based on past results it’s probably 22-year-old Vanessa Baez, a singer from Bloomfield, who is Miss Columbus Day. She was third runner-up both last year and in 2010 and was in the state top 10 in both 2009 and 2008. Others with a history of success include Negron, a singer who attends Seton Hall and was fourth runner-up last year; Nardi, a singer from Cumberland County College who was in last year’s top 10; and 23-year-old singer Courtney Charatsaris of Totowa, Miss Cape Shores, who was also in last year’s top 10.

Nine of the contestants are competing in a state pageant for the first time. A tenth, 20-year-old Christine Skorenko of Eatontown, Miss Monmouth County, will be part of Miss New Jersey for the first time but was a contestant in the Miss Rhode Island pageant two years ago.

Schoeffel, a dancer who attends Montclair State University, is one of those competing in the state pageant for the first time. But she was New Jersey’s Outstanding Teen in 2007 and New Jersey’s entry in the 2009 America’s National Teenager Pageant. And 22-year-old Nychole Hunt, a singer from Scotch Plains, Miss Eastern Shores, was New Jersey’s entry in the America’s Miss Junior Teen Pageant in 2006 and finished as first runner-up in the national competition. Hunt has been in the Miss New Jersey Pageant three previous times, the last in 2010.

Though there are none among this year’s 25 contestants, Ocean City women have won the state pageant three times in the last 34 years. In fact, this year is the 34th anniversary of Laurie Berchtold’s win and the 24th anniversary of the 1988 crowning of Tricia Bowman. The other Ocean City winner was Amy Fissel, 1991, who holds the rare distinction of winning the Miss New Jersey title in both the Miss America and Miss USA pageants.

Tickets are available by calling Mary Lou Cake at 856-424-3564 or, next week by calling 609-315-1423. Tickets are $35 for preliminaries, $50 for the final with a package price of $100 for all three nights. For other pageant information, call 609-525-9300.

Words of Wisdom: In 1958, two Miss America finalists surprised veteran emcee Bert Parks by revealing on live television that they’d discovered backstage that they shared a common bond ... a two-timing military cadet boyfriend.

Miss Iowa pronounced judgment on the young man: “I think he has two very lovely ex-girlfriends.”

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