Two Jamestown residents are preparing to embark on a journey to the USA Petite beauty pageant finals.
Yara Olmo, Teen New York Petite 2013 and Sasha Kurashige, Miss New York Petite 2013 will represent not only Jamestown, but the state of New York at the USA Petite Pageant on Sunday, Aug. 18, in Kissimmee, Fla.
Olmo, a 16-year-old who is of Puerto Rican descent, is a senior at Jamestown High School, and is 4 feet 10 inches tall. She was born in Germany to an American soldier and her Puerto Rican mother. Olmo's mother is a professional Latin and belly dance instructor. In addition to school and participating in various pageants, Olmo also competes on the both the indoor and outdoor JHS track team, cross country, the a capella choir and has taken singing lessons at Infinity Visual and Performing Arts. She also currently volunteers at the Chautauqua County Humane Society.
Yara Olmo, Teen New York Petite 2013 and Sasha Kurashige, Miss New York Petite 2013, are pictured above.
"I've been in pageants before, but this is the biggest so far," said Olmo. "It feels nice, because on my resume it weighs a lot more than other pageants have. It also presents me in a different light than other girls."
Kurashige, a 21-year-old who is of Japanese and Swedish descent, graduated from Southwestern High School in 2010, and is 5 feet 4 inches tall. Kurashige spent her youth living in Los Angeles before moving to Chautauqua County in 5th grade. While in high school, Kurashige participated in track, cross country and tennis. She spent two years studying at Jamestown Community College before transferring to SUNY Fredonia, where she is currently continuing her education in business marketing. Kurashige's mother is a professional ballet dancer and instructor.
"This is my first one - it's interesting," said Kurashige. "I think it's something that's really cool, and is a good opportunity. So, far I'm enjoying it, and I'm learning a lot."
According to Leticia Ferrer, president and CEO of Bomba Queen Productions Corp. and the Miss Teen New York Petite Pageant, because Olmo and Kurashige are in separate categories, teen and miss, both of them have the chance to bring home a crown.
"It's the most exciting moment to hear who is going to be runner-up and who will get the crown," said Ferrer. "But, it's also in a very good, supportive environment where the women become friends, and get to share nice moments together."
Olma and Kurashige were selected to participate in the USA Petite Final Competition after winning in their respective divisions. During the final competition, the two young women will compete in areas such as: swimsuit, evening gown, judge interview and on-stage questioning. According to Ferrer, the judges interview makes up a large portion of the competition, which means they will have to strive to impress with their ability to speak publicly.
"At times it is a lot of pressure," said Olmo. "It's very nerve-wracking going on stage, but throughout the year you get trained and it helps you gain confidence so that when you're on stage you will do the best you can."
"Yeah, along the process I've become more and more comfortable with it," said Kurashige. "I get shy at times, I'm not the most confident person in the whole world, but Leticia and Yara have helped me become more confident."
In addition to the competition, Olmo and Kurashige will participate in a "Petite Camp," which will serve as an opportunity to learn to navigate the pageant business via seminars, professional photo sessions, as well as an evening of relaxation and fun.
MEET THE QUEENS
The Jamestown community will have the opportunity to meet Olmo and Kurashige before they head to the competition in August.
According to Ferrer, several fundraising events will be held to stimulate donations, which will be utilized to cover expenses such as dresses, food and hotel expenses, as well as a hairstylist for the four days of the competition.
"It's very important for us," said Ferrer. "This is the first time that Jamestown has had two beauty pageant queens representing not only our community, but the whole state, and they cannot do this on their own. These ladies aren't from wealthy families, and even if they were, they'd still need the support of the community."
At the events, Olmo and Kurashige will be available for meet-and -greet style autographs and photographs. The first fundraising event will be held Tuesday from 5-7 p.m. at Brigiotta's, 414 Fairmount Ave. in Jamestown. They will return to Brigiotta's on Tuesday, July 30, from 5-7 p.m. for a second event. At both Brigiotta's events the young ladies will collect donations in a tag days style manner.
A third opportunity to meet the petite queens will be held at Friendly's, 10 S. Main St. in Jamestown, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30. For the length of the day, Friendly's will participate in the fundraising effort by accepting a certificate that will allow Friendly's to donate 15 percent of their patrons' checks to Olmo and Kurashige. The certificates will be available at the event, as well as by emailing Ferrer at email@example.com. The certificates will be accepted during Friendly's regular business hours on Tuesday, July 30, which means that those who cannot attend the meet and greet can still participate.
PAGEANT FOR PETITES
Olmo, who is in the Teen Division, will compete against other young women in the 15-17 age range, while Kurashige, who is in the Miss Division will compete against those in the 18-24 range. However, there are two other divisions in which women can compete, Ms. and Mrs. Ms. is made up of women who are single and are between the ages of 25-35, and Mrs. is for women who are married and above the age of 30.
According to the founding organization's website, hazely.com, the pageant is designated for petite beauties 5 feet 6 inches or less. The focus of the USA Petite Pageant is to appreciate the beauty within petite women in the United States by offering them opportunities and special recognitions for participation. The organization looks for poised, graceful ladies who understand that their height is no limitation to fulfilling their dreams.
"We don't have the intention of changing what is out there already, but we think that we all deserve an opportunity to compete," said Ferrer. "So, we are opening new doors for women of different ages and sizes that cannot actually compete in classical pageants. That's why we want to show that petite is beautiful as well."
For more information call 407-529-9881, visit bombaqueenproductions.info or hazely.com/usapetite.