BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The 100th Miss Alabama Pageant at the Alabama Theatre was welcomed with a good sized crowd Thursday night.
While this wasn’t the first event to happen at the theatre in 2021, many inside felt relieved to have some form of normalcy again, especially since there wasn’t a pageant in 2020. Contestants, judges, audience members, even former winners were excited to be back.
“It means a lot. This is really special,” 1989 Miss Alabama Julie Coons Peterson said.
As soon as the curtain dropped, showing all 39 contestants greet the crowd, board member Frank Kanelos knew it would be a magical moment.
“Probably tear up because I’ve been doing this for 30 plus years,” Kanelos said.
People were cheering loud for one of the highest honors in the state of Alabama.
“You know, we see the athletic role models. We don’t see many that are wearing a shiny, beautiful crown that are beautiful, intelligent and talented,” Kanelos said.
Peterson says being a part of the Miss Alabama is a high honor that she cherishes to this day.
“So here I am 30 something years later and these are my friends and this is a family,” Peterson said.
Kanelos says because of COVID, they had to switch venues. In recent years, they’ve held the pageant at Samford University. At the Alabama Theatre, they offered sanitation stations and are only allowing 1000 tickets sold a night for distancing purposes.
“That was the main thing. Distancing and someone who would accommodate us,” Kanelos said.
He says 2020 was a rough year for the group. Because they weren’t able to have fundraisers and were having trouble finding revenue, they were out more than $100,000.
“Some of the colleges and universities were not as generous with the scholarship money because of their dealings with COVID,” Kanelos said.
But they are excited to be back again and he believes they should recover within time.
“We’ve probably sold 300-400 books since Wednesday. So, we are starting to generate some of that,” Kanelos said.
After night one, everyone who attended seemed thrilled to have the Miss Alabama Pageant back.
“To have everyone back in person this year is just a blessing,” Peterson said.
The pageant goes on through Saturday night, where they will crown a new Miss Alabama for the first time since 2019.