Angelic for a day ... and likely much longer

Amani Kitchens takes the stage at Woodlynne Elementary School, where contestants ranged in age from 5 to 21.
Amani Kitchens takes the stage at Woodlynne Elementary School, where contestants ranged in age from 5 to 21.
Posted: February 24, 2014

The ninth annual Angels and Angelbugs Beauty Pageant in Woodlynne on Saturday did not quite go off without a hitch.

Backstage, the only real moment of serenity was when the contestants, ranging from kindergartners to teenagers, held hands and prayed before the program. Otherwise, the classroom at Woodlynne Elementary School where the girls spent most of the three-hour pageant was happy, brightly colored chaos, with shoes, dresses, and props flying everywhere.

The pageant is the signature event of the Angels on the Move Foundation, an organization led by Woodlynne Councilwoman Gwendolyn Torres that encourages girls from age 5 to young women age 21 to develop self-esteem and set goals.

The group she mentors had been preparing for the pageant since July, meeting twice a week and attending church together once a month.

The wide age range is deliberate, Torres said, because each of the older girls becomes a role model for one of her younger counterparts.

When the pageant started late due to a sound problem, the audience gasped as one when Angels young and old kicked off the pageant in white robes and halos.

Later in the evening, when two queens - one from each of two age groups - were crowned, the audience stood and cheered, and an older woman reached out to pinch the cheek of Miss Angelbug, 5-year-old Anye Williams, as the girl made her victory walk.

"I want to help them to become productive women in society, striving to be better and live better," Torres said. "I am blessed, so I want to bless them."

- April Saul

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