Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fare Thee Well!

It seems a bit cliche to say that I can’t believe it had been a year already, but I truly can’t. So much has changed for me in the past 12 months, personally, professionally, spiritually and emotionally.

When I competed at Miss New York last year, I knew I found “the shoe that fit” in regards to pageant systems. The Miss America Organization felt like home immediately.  There is a different sort of camaraderie within this system that most people on the outside could never possibly understand. On the other hand, I felt ill-prepared and knew I needed help if I was going to continue competing at that level. Watching Allison Carlos compete all week, not only was I envious of her wardrobe, but I knew she must have had an amazing support system behind her. Cue meeting Shelby, Gary, and Sue.  After meeting the Miss TI team, I knew that if I had a shot at winning Miss NY, I would need them in my corner.

This by far has been the most rewarding, but difficult, year of my life. Without the help of my Miss TI team and my family and friends I would not have grown in the way that I have.  I want to thank a few people for making this year so special. Mom, thank you for giving me your honest opinion and many swift kicks in the behind when I needed them.  Gary and Sue, thank you for truly being my home away from home. Thank you for always making me feel comfortable, for gas in my tank, and granola bars in my tummy. You are like another set of parents to me and I love you both dearly. Ran, thank you for being there when I needed you and keeping Mom sane. Thank you to my sister Elle, and my best friends Jesse Ladoue, Katelynn Smith, and Mary Beth. Mallory Hagan, thank you for making me eat Wegmans at an ungodly hour, being an amazing friend and making the concept of being Miss America more attainable to myself and the world. Huge gratitude also goes to Deltra and Stan, my team at the Ritz Salon and Day Spa, Barbara Yerdon, my friend Dave, Mike Folsom, Kristina Blackford, and Priscilla James.  

Kathy Lettiere, thank you firstly for my gorgeous gown and earrings and even more than that for treating me like a daughter. I never felt more like a queen than when working with you.  Julia and Vern, thank you for accompanying me on this journey, and being my comedic relief. You both have so much ahead of you and I can’t wait to see where your lives take you.  Joelle, my sister, I am so blessed to have been paired with you. You are talented, smart, beautiful and mature beyond your years. Thank you for always being an amazing friend and making me smile. Always keep your faith close to you and you will be unstoppable. Stella, thank you for making my experience with the Children’s Miracle Network an unforgettable one.  As the great Taylor Swift would say “If you’re lucky enough to be different, never change.”  Thank you for being you.

Shelby, you have helped me to grow in ways I never could have imagined. Thank you for never giving up on me or asking me to change myself, but instead helping me to flourish and perfect who I already am. My advocate, my friend, I am forever grateful. To my family, thank you for your never-ending support and undying love. Each of you were an integral part of my success at Miss NY, and I love you all so much. Thank you for the things you did on a daily basis that made this year an extraordinary experience. Aaron, thank you for being my 24/7 counselor, for making me eat right and take breaks when I needed them. You make me so incredibly happy and I am so excited to see what the future brings our way.

I spent a large part of my year explaining why Miss Thousand Islabnds lived in Buffalo.  Not being a native of the Watertown area, it was hard for me to explain. Now, I find myself being so excited to show my family and friends my favorite places: Clayton, The River and Boldt Castle. I am so proud and grateful to have spent a year of my life representing this beautiful region. Now, when people ask me if the Thousand Islands is my home, I simply say “yes.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It is hard to sum up my year as Miss Thousand Islands.  I have met so many amazing people who have touched my life forever.

Shelby, you have made my year so memorable and have held my hand every step of the way.  We are two of the most headstrong human beings on the planet and although a strange combination at first, I believe that we were simply unstoppable.  Thank you for always pushing me further than I thought I could go but never asking me for more than I could give.  I love you more than Tory Burch.

Gary and Sue, I have said it once but I will say it again,  you are like another set of parents to me.  Never have I felt more comfortable in someone else's home as I do in yours.  Thank you for always being there for me when I needed you.  For always being understanding of my needs and having a pageant story to make me smile.  I love you guys so much.

Joelle, my teen, my little sister, you are wonderful.  Thank you for always having a kind word to say.  You are SO beyond your years.  When my days were dark you brought them back into the light.  I have never met a 13 year old quite like you.  I am so blessed to have had you by my side this year.  I love you to the moon and back.

There are so many more people that I could thank but I will just leave you with what I have learned this year.  If I could take anything away from this year, just one thing, it would be the concept of putting things in perspective.  I have struggled for the past few years with anxiety, to the point that the littlest things would overwhelm me.  After working with Stella, my favorite miracle child, I realized that I need to appreciate every single day and take things one step at a time.

I am so grateful to everyone who made this year the best of my life, although I know there are many more to come after I get to marry my best friend, you all gave me the confidence to go in the direction of my dreams.  Words cannot explain my deep gratitude.  I am so excited for what my future has in store.  I will continue looking ahead, only because I know you will always be behind me.

So much love,

Miss Thousand Islands 2013

Lonna McCary

Miss Central New York

This past weekend I had the honor of co-emceeing the first Miss New York 2014 local pageant with Miss New York herself, Nina Davuluri.  It was so fun getting to stand on the other side of things for once.  A lot easier to laugh at myself when I messed up, that's for sure! 

The day started off with rehearsals...

Look how stressed we are!

Then we had a wonderful dinner, full of lots of healthy choices (with the option of bread, I opted in) and great conversation with formers and current titleholders.  I am always so happy going to these pageants because you get to have a first look at what is going to be seen at Miss New York this year, and what could be more exciting than that?!?

Then it was time to get ready...


There were so many amazing girls but in the end, Courtney Sheridan walked away with the title of Miss Central NY 2014.  Congrats girl!!  I met Courtney last year at Miss NY and was so pleased to see her come back.  What a genuine, talented, and intelligent young woman.  She just so happens to have the same platform as me which is awesome.  I know that Teen Dating Violence is not alway the easiest topic to talk about and I am so proud of you.  Good luck sister!  You will be wonderful.  And congratulations to Amy and Corrie for a successful year at your first local!

I had such a blast, not only hosting but getting to spend some extra quality time with Nina.

With her only having one month to prepare for Miss America, I doubted I would even get return texts from this pretty lady.  Here I am though, on her couch for the second weekend in a row.  I have always loved Nina since the moment I saw her compete at Miss Greater Rochester, but the love has continued to grow ever since.  The more I learn about her, the more I respect her and feel so blessed to not only know her but call her my friend.  You will be absolutely amazing, I can't wait to see you work it in Atlantic City!

On that note,  I think it is time for us beauty queens to hit the hay!  Tomorrow is a big day.  My very last appearance as Miss TI (well, besides my appearance at Miss TI) and it will be a Children's Miracle Network hospital visit in Watertown.  With CMN being one of my favorite parts of this year, I couldn't think of a better way to end my year.  I hope I see you all at the Miss Thousand Islands pageant this weekend, as I retire my crown and say goodbye to my MAO family.  As one door closes, another opens....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Workshop and Big news

So....the day after Miss NY, I announced to my directors and the world that soon I will have a different last name.  You heard me right, I am engaged, finally, to my best friend, the love of my life, my partner in crime, my support system.  IILT Aaron M. Moshier

I mean seriously!  How lucky am I?!?

I cannot wait to pick out my dress from A Touch of Grace oh wait, I already did =)  Thank you to Shelby, Gary and Sue for my first engagement present, my veil.  It is simply breath-taking.  I can't wait for everyone to see it, especially Aaron.  I also can't wait to pass it down to my own daughter, it is truly a piece of art like each of you are.  I love you all so much.

Less than a week later I reported back to Watertown for a day of garage sailing for the Miss TI scholarship fund.  We made a pretty good profit and had tons of fun.  Then we had dinner with Watertown's finest music directors Russ and Laurie Fonce.  Laurie made a delicious Oreo, dirt cake.  Thank you for all the hospitality and carbs, I loved both so much! 

Boy am I glad that I am off my diet, this "cake" was amazing!  
Also glad I close my eyes in every picture. =)

The next day I got to meet the eleven lovely ladies who will be fighting for my crown August 10th.  Some were new to MAO and others were veterans but all were gorgeous, talented and boy can they werk a pair of heels.  I think it is going to be a very difficult choice for those judges.

Who's your favorite contestant?

 We were also lucky enough to catch three generations of Miss TI's in one place!

 Me, Allie and Morgan

Whose next?  Come see at the Claton Opera House on August 10th!  See you there!



The Big Show

Well it took me a week and a half to recover but I think I am now ready to share with you my experiences at my last Miss America preliminary pageant.  Miss New York 2013 was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  The people who got me there; my mom, dad, Randy, Elle, Remy, Nick, Shelby, Gary, Sue, Kathy, Priscilla, Deltra, Stan and Aaron made the experience even better.  Before I share my feelings, let me first share with you how the week went.

Day one, Tuesday, July 9th:

My mom and I hit the road early in the morning from Binghamton.  I wore this ensemble:

The contestants checked into the hotel at the Hampton Inn in Staten Island, changed and hopped on the bus with our soon-to-be favorite bus driver ever, Gary
 Katelynn Smith, Myself and Jamie Lynn Macchia
Myself, Desiree Wiley and Katelynn

My roommate and one of my best friends in the world, Katelynn <3

Our first stop was the Common's Cafe, a very delicious lunch sponsored by Mr. Nicotras.  The Common's Cafe is a restaurant that donates every dollar to local charities which is pretty cool.

Nina Davuluri, myself and Katelynn

We then visited the 9/11 memorial.  This was my third time visiting the memorial but it never ceases to touch my heart.  It makes me feel even more patriotic than I already am on a daily basis, I felt honored to be in love with a Marine.  After viewing the memorial,  we had attracted some attention from a man working in 2 World Trade Center tower.  He invited all of us up to a viewing of the architects' floor to view what the new New York skyline will look like.  It was a surreal moment viewing the models of the buildings that will inevitably become a part of the history of not only our state but our country.  
 A pretty awesome picture of what the new skyline will look like; iconic.
Standing next to the LARGE models of the new World Trade Center buildings.

After a long walk around the city in my Pink and Pepper heels, I was SO excited to take a look around the actual showroom!
 How awesome are the people at Pink and Pepper?
 They not only gave us all a pair of gorgeous flip flops...
 They also gave us a goodie bag full fun stuff like, an umbrella, sunglasses, a water bottle and more!

Thank you so much Pink and Pepper !

Then...drumroll.....MR NEW YORK!  Mr. New York was sooo much fun.  I had a great time watching my contestant, Corey Cruppi, werk the stage.

 The Cutting Room had some amazing food and treated us like royalty.  Katelynn and me :-)
The very talented Mr Thousand Islands, Corey Cruppi and myself.  The ladies were in love!

Then we headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep, a little of it anyway.

Day Two, Wednesday, July 10th:

We loaded onto the bus in the morning and headed toward the Tunnel to Towers office.  Tunnel to Towers is a local charity that started after September 11th and has raised money and provided volunteers for state-side disasters ever since.  They also build homes for disabled veterans which really hit close to home for me as well.  It was not only fun to work with this organization, but an honor.
 Paint in the weave!
 Totally normal face; me, Jamie Lynn and Katelynn
Amanda Abdagic, Shannon Oliver (Miss NY 2012), me and Delesia Watson, puttin' in work.
 A fun group shot outside the home of the elementary teacher's home we helped to rebuild.

It was really great working on this home that was effected by Hurricane Sandy.  After that disaster, I knew I wanted to do something but I wasn't sure how.  I feel so blessed that God found a way to let me help with my sisters.

After that we headed over to the Eger Harbor House.  I am so sad that I have misplaced my pictures from this event but I will explain it to you.  Eger house is a retirement home that is filled with some of the most splendid human beings I have ever met.  We are treated like royalty and the beautiful people who live there welcome us with open arms.  You truly feel like you made someone's day.  This was possibly my favorite appearance of the week.  You could really relax and just have a conversation with someone who truly respects what you do.  To the staff and residents of the Eger Harbor house, thank you so much for a delicious lunch and even better company.

After that we headed to Charlie Browns for a very yummy dinner.
Thank you to the staff of Charlie Browns for being so understanding of our very specific diet needs.

As if the day wasn't long enough, we headed to our first four hour long rehearsal with Kent Parham.

Finally, after our rehearsal, Taylor Swift and I headed to bed for some well needed rest.

But we were surprised by a beautiful bouquet of flowers!
The love of my life, Aaron, sent me these flowers for good luck.  I love you babe!

Day three, Thursday, July 11th:

CLOSED rehearsal at the St George Theatre ALL DAY

Sorry, no pictures...except for this one.

 While stretching on my back with my feet up (because they were killing me obviously), I stole a shot of the wall and part of the ceiling of the St. George.  Isn't it gorgeous?

10pm: End of the day

Day four, Friday, July 12th:

Interviews bright and early, keyword, "bright"

 My beautiful interview outfit donated by my friend Mike, thank you for making me look awesome!
Right before I walked into my interview, I ran into one of my princesses, Vern, and gave her a gift: a new sash!

After that was lunch, preliminary dress rehearsal and then prelims themselves!

 Me and Jamie in our opening number outfits.  Twinnies <3
 Evening Gown!

 Awkward talent pose, because when am I not awkward?
 More epic talent picture
Lifestyle and fitness

More evening gown

And THEN, something amazing happened...


and then I made this face...

I am so honored to have won the Kenn Berry Spirit award.  This organization is where my heart lies and I am so happy that that was easily seen.  Thank you so much Agnes White and family for choosing me!  It means the world to me.

Day five, (last day), Saturday, July 13th:

Rehearsals all day and then finals

I did not make top ten but I know that I did my personal best and that is all that I could ask for.  I have come leaps and bounds from where I started ten years ago.  Everyone has their own journey and mine was just the way it was meant to be.

Later that night, one of my dear friends, Nina Davuluri won the title of Miss New York.

Um, can you tell I am excited?

This was such an amazing experience.  Did I mention that my amazing teen, Joelle Leek finished 5th RU?!?!
So proud of you girl!  Love you!

Here are some more random shots from prelims and finals:

 Best Friends: Katelynn and I
 Night after prelims and my Kenn Berry award :-)
 Miss America, Mallory Hagan and myself
 Prelim award ceremony
 Night of finals with my girls, very patriotic looking!  Jamie, me and Katelynn
 My "little" brother bob and me.  I used to help change his diapers.  I can't handle that.
 My amazing nutritionist, pageant coach and bestie Justin Popovics and me.  Thank you for everything you have done for me this year.  Xoxo WERK!

My mommy and me.  Thank you for being fabulous and carting me around to pageants for ten years.  I love you so much.
 My obvious favorite contestants, Jamie Lynn and Katelynn.  I love you both so much.

It is hard to believe that this journey is over.  It has been an amazing ride.  I am so grateful to everyone who helped me get here.  I look forward to what the next chapter in my life brings.  Thank you to the Miss America organization for changing my life and making me the woman I am today.  I am blessed to have been a part of this iconic organization and the amazing Miss New York family.  It is strange to think that my days in pageantry are almost over pending my giving up my title on August 10th but I am ready to move forward.  Onward and upward!

Hugs, kisses and Glitter,

Lonna McCary
Miss Thousand Islands 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bon Voyage!

My send off party this weekend was so incredibly fun.  It was great to have some of my friends who normally don't see that side of me experience the pageant world.  I don't have too many pictures to share with you because I spent a majority of my time there modeling my interview wear, evening gown and talent outfit.  I also got a chance to perform my talent which felt so amazing. 

I want to take a moment to thank the many people who took the time to make me, Joelle and my princesses feel so very special this weekend.  A very special thanks to Julie Bocciolatt and Stephanie Leek for hosting the fabulous party, complete with high heel cupcakes and all!  And my best friend from home, Mary Beth, and her boyfriend for making the long drive up.  I will never forget how great you guys are and how important you made me feel.

Here is a look at a couple shots from the party!

Myself and my beautiful court of ladies, (LTR, FTB) Julia, Vern, Joelle and me

 The gorgeous cake that I couldn't eat LOL thanks mom!
Me cutting the cake

In other fun news, I went to an appearance at the Buffalo Historical Society with Kristina (Ferris) Blackford and I sold 50/50 tickets.  Thank you for having me, I had so much fun!


It's hard to believe Miss NY is so close.  There is still time to vote for your favorite contestant so please, please do!  Follow this link to Miss NY and vote for Miss Thousand Islands!!  Also, please follow me on Twitter at @LonnaLu and instagram at lonnamccary to see all the latest Miss NY updates.  Check out #MissNY2013 as well so see posts from other contestants and friends at the pageant.  I love you all and I am so excited to represent this gorgeous region of New York.