Cade Arano’s earliest memories of watching the Miss Universe pageant were as a young girl growing up in the Philippines in the 1980s.
“My grandmother and uncle were big fans,” she said. “My grandmother used to host a viewing party every year,” she said.
Decades later, Alano remains an avid supporter of competition. However, this year was a year she will never forget.
Allano last week made a pilgrimage from her home in Los Angeles to New Orleans with seven friends to see her first Miss Universe competition in person.
Among 6,000 devoted fans from around the world on Saturday night, Alano spent three hours inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, sitting on the edge of his seat in a sparkly, full-length gown, singing heartily 1 I had one hope. Miss USA, R’Bonney Gabriel, took home the crown.
As the world now knows, Alano got her wish and Gabrielle became the first Filipino-American and the oldest winner in the contest’s 71-year history at age 28.
Gabrielle, from Houston, said when she met her mother from Beaumont, Texas, that her father had $20 in his pocket when he came to the U.S. Gabrielle owns his own sustainable clothing line. fashion designer. She is also a model and sewing instructor. After she became the first Asian-American to win Miss Her Texas and then the first Filipino to win Miss Her USA, her Gabriel audience included about 100 friends and her family. There were many fans, including
“Tonight, Miss USA is a big crowd favorite, just like Miss Venezuela, Miss Colombia, Miss Dominican Republic,” said convention center president Michael Sawaya with his wife and a few friends before Pagan began. sat in the crowd.
Sawaya said she was deeply involved in bringing Miss Universe to New Orleans, motivated by the benefits she saw when hosting the competition as president of the San Antonio convention center.
“Having just happened to have an opening, we couldn’t pass up this opportunity to showcase New Orleans to the world and boost international travel that has been off since the pandemic.”
New Orleans culture was featured prominently in pageant broadcasts streamed to nearly 165 countries on the Roku Channel alone.
The night included performances by Tank and Bangus, and Amanda Shaw sang in an evening gown contest where the women paraded against a backdrop of firefly-lit swamps.
Footage of attendees enjoying the Mardi Gras World, National WWII Museum, and Joan of Arc parades interspersed throughout the broadcast, as Tujagz professed his love for gumbo. Big Freedia served as one of the judges known as the selection committee.
The glitz and glamor of the night spilled over into the well-dressed crowd, but not the measured composure of the contestants.
At a party so raucous that it would make New Orleans proud, attendees were lucky enough to secure tickets — it sold out in just a few days — waving flags, fans and national scarves, We engaged each other in a match of chants, unabashedly shouting and jumping. From time to time in my chair, I would raise my arms and stare at the heavens, celebrating my favorite woman advancing to the next level of competition.
Allano roared with glee at the start of the interview portion and declared her favorite part of the competition.
“This is the time to see how smart they are,” she said.
The emotional journey continued. Allano was one of many in the audience who shed tears at a memorial service for her 2019 Miss Chesley Christ of the USA, who died by suicide in January 2022.
Kryst’s mother took the stage to a standing ovation to announce a memorial fund created in her daughter’s name in partnership with the National Association of Mental Illness.
But the mood soon picked up again, and one of the best-selling gospel singers of all time, Yolanda Adams, danced the crowd down the aisle and sang “I’m Every Woman” as the last three contestants miss. . Venezuela, Miss Dominican Republic and Miss USA completed their final walk for the judges.
A few minutes later, Gabriel hugged the bouquet and cried tears of joy. The victory was nothing short of pure kismet.
Gabriel’s middle name?