The four 2018 Miss Destin contestants boarded the Southern Star dolphin cruise boat on Monday afternoon wearing matching royal blue Destin Fishing Rodeo long sleeved T-shirts and white denim shorts and pants.
Parents and siblings accompanied the Miss Destin hopefuls on the cruise, which served as a way to get contestants and their families to mingle and learn more about what to expect as the pageant approaches.
"Today is an exciting time for the Miss Destin contestants to get to know the committee that puts on the pageant," said volunteer Heidi LoCicero, whose daughter, Peyton LoCicero, was crowned Miss Destin in 2011. "The Southern Star was so nice to take the girls out on the boat because during the month of October, they’ll be out on the water every day."
Contestant Lauren Adams’ parents supported their daughter on the harbor cruise, saying they’ve been waiting for the time that Lauren could enter the pageant at age 16.
"I think I’m more excited than anyone to be honest," said Lauren’s father, Billie Adams.
During the cruise, Miss Destin 2017 Rachel McMullen spoke to the girls about the upcoming Judge’s Tea, which is scheduled for this Sunday. The girls will meet the judges and have one-on-one interviews with them.
Contestants Ellen Brown, Dani Locht, Lauren Adams, and Brooke O’Keefe listened to her advice intently.
"If you say ‘I like Italian food,’ they want to know why. So say something like, ‘I like Italian food because I want to travel to Italy some day," McMullen said to the group.
A late lunch was served before the girls broke out into a spontaneous "Macarena" dance when the song played over the loud speakers. They were laughing and relaxed, enjoying their time on the boat.
"It’s great to be out on the water with everyone, this is what Miss Destin is all about," said Locht, one of this year's contestants. "I call this ‘my zone.’ Growing up on the water this is all I really loved to do."
For the cruise, each contestant created an "All About Me" board. The boards were anonymous, so that Pageant Director Ann White had to guess who made each board.
White and LoCicero presented the boards, which were all different shapes and sizes and covered in words, paint, and pictures that described the contestant.
O’Keefe’s board won the mini contest, and she was presented with an extra bag of treats from area sponsors.
"I worked really hard to show things that weren’t typically visible on the outside," said O’Keefe. "I knew I wanted to show my love of poetry, so I decided to write a poem about myself."
Her poster was lined with words like "encourager," "athlete," "diligent," "artist," and "thankful."
The Miss Destin Pageant is on Saturday, April 21 at the Destin Community Center at 7 p.m.