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Ms. Senior USA pageant kicks off in Las Vegas this weekend

Updated May 18, 2017 - 3:28 pm

When it comes to hosting beauty pageants, Las Vegas is a gold medal winner.

The city has, at various times, hosted not just the pageant biggies — including Miss America, Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA — but an entire universe of other pageants for women, men, children and every other demographic imaginable.

This weekend, Las Vegas’ always-growing roster of beauty pageants increases by one when the Ms. Senior USA pageant — for women 60 and older — kicks off at the Tropicana hotel.

Public pageant week events include an outdoor meet-and-greet at 6:30 p.m. Friday outside the Tropicana at Tropicana Avenue and the Strip. The week culminates with the pageant finals and crowning of Ms. Senior USA at 1 p.m. Monday. Finals tickets are $49.50, and competing on behalf of Nevada will be Carole Fucillo of Boulder City.

Kathleen “Kat” Ray of Las Vegas, founding Ms. Senior USA, said the pageant aims to “celebrate their accomplishments and their lives.”

This is the third year that a Ms. Senior USA will be crowned, but judging during the first two years was done by a board of governors. This year, the selection will be made through a judged pageant format at which contestants will compete in interview, talent and evening gown events, as well as in presentation of a personal philosophy, Ray said.

“Senior programs have been going on since the ‘80s for ladies,” Ray said. “We, however, are a fairly recent pageant.”

“I had participated in other senior pageants and wanted to do something that was bigger and better and bring it to Las Vegas, and that’s what we’ve done.”

The Ms. Senior USA Pageant is an independent pageant, Ray said, and a companion event, Ms. Senior Universe, is scheduled for Nov. 6, also in Las Vegas.

Ray said this year’s Ms. Senior USA contestants range in age from 60 to 93 and represent a wide range of life experience, Ray said. “We have World War II veterans and breast cancer survivors. Every woman has an incredibly moving story to tell.”

Plans are to compile the contestants’ stories into a book akin to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, offering readers inspiration and advice, Ray said.

“These women, they’ve lived their lives, not like 22-year-old (pageant contestants). These women lived several lives and have been up and down, and they’re there to share it,” Ray said. “That’s why a lot of them got involved in pageants, so they can tell their stories and meet other amazing ladies across the country.”

Contact John Przybys at reviewjournal.com. or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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