The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
‘Modeling at this age is unreal’
Floyd Williams donned “country club casual.”
Shirley Gill was adorned with jewelry she had crafted herself.
Carolyn and Michael Collins wore colorful ensembles.
They all took to the red carpet Saturday for the Top Senior Model 2013 competition.
Relatives, friends and staff members packed a dining hall at The Crossings at Falls Run, a Stafford County senior living community, to watch as Williams, Gill, the Collinses and six other residents competed in the fashion and talent show.
Each participant was escorted by a member of the JROTC program at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County.
Contestants were judged on style, poise, personality and talent, according to Karl Karch, owner of Home Instead Senior Care, which owns The Crossings.
“They’ve never had the opportunity to do something like this here before,” he said. “It was wonderful, because these are very talented people, but they’re modest.”
Karch served as the master of ceremony, providing information and commentary on every contestant, JROTC escort and talent presented.
Valerie Hopson–Bell, owner of Elder Care Connections, Kimberly Self Moulds, co-owner of Smooth Transitions of Fredericksburg, and Fredericksburg AARP 3396 President Steve Scheibe volunteered as judges.
The show also featured a presentation from the Aegis Training and Readiness Center.
Escorted by the JROTC members, competitors first walked down the red carpet in carefully selected outfits to showcase the Home Instead message, “Feeling better from the outside in.”
“Looking good and feeling good as we age are closely intertwined. How a person looks on the outside contributes to positive self-esteem.” Karch explained. “This pageant is dedicated to achieving that goal.”
Whether dressed in Belk-supplied outfits or personal favorites, each contestant explained the reasons behind each outfits as it related to their comfort levels and personalities.
“Modeling at this age is unreal,” Shirley Gill told the judges during her runway presentation.
As participants strutted their stuff down the runway, Karch provided a summary of each contestant’s life story.
Despite the active competition, the atmosphere was informal. Audience members frequently chimed in as contestants mentioned relatives or friends in attendance.
The runway presentation also provided a glimpse into the lives of the contestants’ escorts and their future goals, many of which included enlisting or earning an Armed Forces commission.
Many contestants and audience members had military backgrounds, so escorts received a fair share of their own applause.
Karch also kept the audience amused with ad-libbed jokes.
Talents at the pageant ranged widely. Though residents repeatedly claimed that they had no talents, they showcased intricate piano compositions, needle works and paintings—many with personal significance.
Contestant Sally Sarber brought out quilts she had made for her children and grandchildren. Bobbye Hayes played “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” on piano. Audience members hummed or sang quietly along.
Carolyn Brown, a Women’s Army Corps veteran and published cartoonist, presented sketches from her career, including a book she co-wrote called “Tour in the Tropics, or, Guam is Good.”
“The book was a Stars and Stripes (publication) bestseller,” said Brown’s daughter, Lisa Bailey.
Once the talent portion concluded, Home Instead Marketing Manager Kate Daniels presented contestants with participation plaques and copies of their scripts.
Carolyn Brown was crowned Miss Top Senior Model 2013, while Michael Collins received the crown and sash declaring him Mr. Top Senior Model 2013.
“It helps get people to speak up more about what they want,” he said of the competition. “It was very positive to see the turnout among residents and families.”
Collins, president of The Crossings’ resident council, said he participated primarily because his wife was interested, but also because the competition had been lacking in men.
With his participation, two men competed for Mr. Top Senior Model.
Collins enjoyed the competition, and credits his Hawaiian T–shirt and abstract paintings for his win.
Both Collins and Brown were unsure if they would defend their titles in next year’s competition, though each was happy to have participated.
“I’ve just wanted to be part of something like this,” Brown said. “I’ve never really been able to before.”
In the future, the contestants hope to have a larger pool of competitors.
“I wish we could get everyone to join in,” Carolyn Collins said. “Particularly the men.”
Dawnthea Price: 540/374-5444