April 16, 2006 — Becoming successor to a pageant winner who, during her reign, went on to win awards on the international scene is a tall order. Saturday night, at the 2006 V.I. Carnival Queen Selection Show at Lionel Roberts Stadium, a young TV talk show host did just that.
Six young hopefuls took on the challenge. The woman in charge of the committee that presents the popular annual pageant said they were each determined to do their best as they vied for the title. In the end Mystique Burke, co-host of the award-winning "Graffiti Street" teen talk show, walked away with the prize. She also won the titles for best evening wear, best talent, best historic or cultural wear, best interview and most photogenic.
But almost all of her fellow contestants also won the judges' recognition. "Graffiti Street" co-host Alanis Gregory was named first runner-up. Teryssa Thomas, a senior at Charlotte Amalie High School, won second runner-up; and Shayla Cruz, a senior at All Saints Cathedral School, won third runner-up. Shaharlee Blake, a senior at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, was voted most cooperative.
Burke took most of the major prizes for her interpretation of this year's Carnival theme, "Glamour and Glitz for Carnival 2006." She put on the glitz by playing musical tributes to V.I. stalwarts Bill LaMotta, Nick Friday and Irvin "Brownie" Brown. She also provided glamour in a strapless rose-colored gown and displayed her intellect when asked if the Virgin Islands was ready for its first female governor.
At pageant's end, before a crowd of 2,500, reigning Carnival Queen K'misha Counts passed on her crown to Burke. Earlier in the show Counts performed a rendition of "I'll Always Love You," the song she sung to win the title of best overall talent at the 2005 Miss World Competition, held this year in China.
By evening's end, after four hours of competition and weeks of practice and preparation, Queen Mystique said she was ready to call it a night. "What I really want to do is get some sleep," she said.
Carnival Queen Committee Chairwoman Lorna Webster, whose group is responsible for putting the pageants together year after year, said this year's audience got its money's worth from six ambitious girls who gave it their all in competition.
"When you put someone on stage you never know what they'll do. Some people shine under the light, some people shy away from the light," said Webster.
Webster was asked if she thought the on-camera media experience of this year's winner and first runner-up made a difference in the outcome. Her reply: "Not really."
"Those girls may have really benefited from the media exposure, but I found the rest of the girls were not that far behind. It was a very aggressive group of girls. They really gave it their all," she said.
Webster's co-chairwoman, 1992 Carnival Queen Tasheda Kelch, also serves as pageant coordinator and provides much of the hands-on work of putting the show together. She agreed with Webster that the entertainment value for this year's pageant largely came from the contestants themselves.
"I think it was all about the girls. They were well prepared. They were talented. They were all honor roll students," said Kelch. "Despite whatever fluff and added stuff we put in the show, its the girls that really made it happen."
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