Parade of Favorites delivers tradition with a twist
Lee University hosted its 52nd annual Parade of Favorites pageant on Saturday, Nov.1. A beloved Lee tradition, Parade of Favorites, often referred to as POF, has changed dramatically since its debut on the school's campus in 1962.
From the full ball gowns and hoop skirts of past years to the sleek chiffon dresses this year's contestants chose, the changes are visible. Despite the program's commitment to tradition, however, POF has made concerted efforts to keep the old school talent showcase updated and relevant to Lee's student body.
In keeping with Lee's dedication to student service learning, each year POF contestants are encouraged to choose a charity that they will support and represent while competing for the title.
For over five decades, each individual contestant has selected their charity independently from other participants, but Chelsea Miller, a senior public relations major and director of this year's POF, decided to take a different approach.
Rather than have the show's contestants commit to multiple charities individually, each contender was required to complete mandatory hours of community service with nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity.
Junior Ben Scott, a POF escort and member of both Upsilon Xi and Sigma Nu Sigma was pleased with this year's change.
'I loved that we got to work together to support one charity and really make a lasting effect on people ' Habitat is an amazing organization,' Scott said.
This year's POF event, dubbed "Guys in Ties and Girls in Pearls", also showcased a wide variety of campus organizations through its contestants, hosting student representatives from clubs such as Leetinos and SLC in addition to traditional Greek community members.
Students responded positively to this increased diversity, and the wide array of student groups represented made the night enjoyable for anyone on Lee's campus.
'I loved all the different talents everyone performed," Parade of Favorites judge and owner of Ever After Bridal, Kendra Collins said. "I thought it was amazing how many of them fit their talents to the group they were representing. I especially liked the dancing.'
All 12 contestants were asked to perform a unique talent during the talent portion of the evening, and many of the POF participants sang and danced.
Senior Sophie Mino, winner of the talent portion of the contest and representative of Leetinos, performed a traditional Latin tango. Mino,who was formerly a competitive ballroom dancer in her native Ecuador, dazzled the audience with her complicated dance number, which included complicated lifts and spins.
Similar to Mino, Olayinka Adedayo, a senior biology major and representative for WASA [World African Student Association] performed an African-style dance that was met with much praise.
Once the talent portion of the event was complete and the interviews and evening wear showcase had taken place, the top 5 contestants were announced. Sophia Mino, Bekah Wright, Olayinka Adebayo and Marissa Goodman were all finalists, with junior English education major and LeeU Update news anchor Arianna Kim taking the crown.
Bekah Wright said that event was a great experience, and she was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Lee tradition.
'POF was an amazing experience, and the feeling of hearing my name called into the top 5 was incredible," Wright said. "I had practiced and worked so hard with no expectation of making it that far."
The contestants' hard work was evident as they answered their final questions and their scores were tallied. As the final moment of the night, the winner was announced, and Arianna Kim took her first walk as Miss POF 2014.
Both with the significant changes and the things that stayed true to tradition, POF proved to be a very entertaining and exciting night for anyone who competed or attended.