A crowning achievement

Maddie Rowley | 315-4353 | @maddiedestinlog |

Niceville High School junior Ellen Brown stood in disbelief when emcee and former WEAR-TV Meteorologist Christian Garman crowned her as the new Miss Destin on Saturday night at the Destin Community Center.

She glanced over both shoulders to make sure Garman had really called out her name, and then smiled while Miss Destin 2017 Rachel McMullen pinned a crown onto the top of her head.

“I was completely speechless when he called my name, it still feels so unreal," Brown said. "I’ve always dreamed of having this opportunity and I was so excited even just to be a part of the process.”

Four candidates competed for the title and the chance to represent the community in October during the Destin Fishing Rodeo and beyond.

Brown and fellow contestants Brooke O’Keefe, Lauren Adams, and Dani Locht, along with McMullen, were introduced in summery casual wear from Destin Threads, and then performed a choreographed dance on stage before changing into their formal gowns to walk the catwalk.

Miss Destin 1997 Angela Firth Hayles choreographed the dance to the song “This is Me" from the soundtrack of popular movie “The Greatest Showman.”

This year’s judge’s panel consisted of Jennifer Carroll, owner of charter boat Bow’d Up; Jodi Ketchersid, owner of Real Joy Properties; and Dion Moniz Sr., president of Emerald Coast Title Services.

The new Miss Destin, who is a member of Niceville’s varsity dance team and works as a graphic design intern at Crosspoint Church, is also an active member of the community.

Brown volunteers with Supper on Saturday, a program that delivers meals to the needy, and Mission Northwest, where she has helped build structures for others within the community organizations.

Adams, a sophomore at Fort Walton Beach High School, earned the Nancy Cheney Congeniality Award and O’Keefe, a junior, was named Most Photogenic. Both of these awards were $200 and a silver plaque. Each of the three runners up walked away with a $500 scholarship and a $50 Rodeo Heritage Award.

Along with the Miss Destin title, Brown won a $3,500 scholarship from the city of Destin, the Destin Charter Boat Association, the Destin Chamber of Commerce, Cheney Insurance Group and HarborWalk Marina Cobia Tournament. She also took home the $200 Peyton LoCicero Humanitarian Award.

Brown said she’s looking forward to her year serving as Miss Destin.

“I’m really excited for everything. I’m looking forward to participating in the Destin Fishing Rodeo, connecting with people, and getting to know more about the city I love,” said Brown. “I’m honored to represent this beautiful city and the wonderful people in it.”

The Inn on Destin Harbor is hosting a Meet Miss Destin reception to welcome Brown as the new Miss Destin on Sept. 20.