Miss South Carolina 2012

Miss SC pageant contestants arrive

Contestants weather heat for debut before start of pageant week

otaylor@thestate.comJuly 8, 2012 

As the Miss South Carolina Pageant contestants, standing on the State House grounds under a grinning sun, introduced themselves Saturday morning, it was clear nothing was going to stop the inevitable.

Fanning themselves with paper or splayed fingers didn’t help. Nor did huddling under dome-shaped umbrellas. Smiling, it seemed, only made it worse.

“We’re all glistening,” Miss Simpsonville, Mary-Langston Willis, said as she introduced herself.

Most call it sweating, and that’s what the Miss SC and Miss South Carolina Teen contestants did. To remove the sweat beading at their foreheads and temples before the perspiration slalomed down their cheeks like tears, the girls wiped and blotted like they were repairing post-win eyes.

Outside was nothing compared with the mobile sauna reigning Miss South Carolina Bree Boyce arrived in. Boyce and Caitlin Patton, Miss SC Teen 2011, arrived in the back of a Two Men and a Truck vehicle.

“It was hot,” Boyce said, as she and Patton walked from Gervais Street, where the truck was parked, to the state house steps, smiling for a few hundred people.

“I deserve a...,” Boyce began saying to Chas Ellis, the pageant’s executive administrator who coordinated the workmanlike arrival.

“Honey, it was hot,” Ellis said, not referring to the temperature.

Boyce and Patton only had to ride in the truck for a block. The only thing that would’ve made the entrance better is if one rolled the other in a hand truck.

This is the second consecutive year Miss SC will be held in Columbia. Last year was the first time the 76-year-old pageant was held in the state capital. This is also the second year Miss SC has been run by the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization.

Ashley Byrd, the scholarship organization’s president and executive director, said the first year went smoothly overall. What organizers weren’t prepared for was the attention Boyce, who shed more than 100 pounds on her way to the crown, received after winning.

“We weren’t prepared for the momentum that started,” Byrd said of the organization, which had to fill dozens of video and photo requests.

There are 101 contestants this year, compared with 88 last year. The tuition scholarship money has also increased, from $10 million to $11.6 million this year.

But can anything possibly top last year?

“We think we set the standard very high the first year, from a production standpoint,” Byrd said. “We have a few twists up our sleeve to keep everybody interested in the program.”

Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.

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