Most little girls dream of one day being a princess; well one Garfield 6-year-old will get the opportunity to compete for the actual title.
McKenzie Morrison, a first grader at Sacred Heart Elementary School, will compete in the 2014 Miss Pennsylvania Pageant, Aug. 8-9, at the Hilton Harrisburg & Towers Hotel in Harrisburg, Pa.
“It feels good, I’m excited and I really want to do it because it sounds fun,” said Morrison.
Sean Morrison, Morrison’s father, said as a parent, “I think this is a very good opportunity, more so just to continue to build her confidence and self-esteem as an individual. This opportunity can take her to new heights and I’m totally excited.”
According to Morrison’s mother, Tamika Swoope-Morrison, she and her husband received a letter a month ago, inviting Morrison to open call auditions at the Doubletree Hotel in Monroeville. They read the letter to Morrison, asked her if she wanted to participate and she agreed. After attending the auditions, receiving more information and being interviewed, the family received a call that Morrison had been selected as a finalist in the state pageant.
“They told us that we would receive a call in three to five business days and we got a call in two. They said her score was high and that she did well during the one-on-one interview,” Swoope-Morrison said.
While this will be Morrison’s first pageant, this is not her first public debut. In October 2012, Morrison, along with her father, appeared on the PBS television show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” a spin-off of the classic “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
They were participating in an episode on the election, and that is where her mother believes she was discovered.
Along with television, Morrison has spent the past four years dancing under the direction of the Visionary Performing Arts Academy, in East Liberty, where she studied tap, ballet and just recently, hip-hop. She has also danced with the Mount Ararat Baptist Church Youth Ministry. Morrison said her favorite subject in school is Reading.
If Morrison is crowned Miss Pennsylvania Princess, she will advance to the National American Miss competition which will take place Nov. 21 in California.
Although they have faith their daughter will win, Swoope-Morrison said she and her husband are not pressuring their “little princess.”
“We always instill in McKenzie that win or lose just have fun.”
While there are those who adore pageants, there are others who believe that they are too commercialized and project negative ideas onto young girls and ladies about body image and beauty.
Sean Morrison disagrees. He said for those with negative thoughts, “I would just say that ‘you need to do your research.’ We’ve done the research. This pageant is not really emphasizing the beauty aspect that most pageants focus on. For instance, there’s no swimsuit portion. It is very child-friendly and for those children who may have a little bit of self-esteem or confidence issues, this can help boost that.”
He added, “This is our future and we need to make sure that our future grows up with confidence to take on the responsibilities and things that we, as adults, have to take on.”
“Not only will this help McKenzie with her social and communication skills, but it will also help her with building relationships with kids outside or her dance class and classroom settings,” Swoope-Morrison said. “We advocate that education is first and foremost, after God. And anything that McKenzie has wanted to do or participate in, we stand behind her 100 percent.”
As Morrison takes on this venture, the family is asking for support from the community, through prayers as well as monetary donations, which they said, is tax deductible and can be made through the National American Miss organization.
“McKenzie has been going to different businesses, and family and friends for sponsorship and donations to help with the fees. We wanted her to do that rather than us just give her money to participate because we wanted her to get the understanding of the concept of money and for her to realize that it is something she believes in, then she has to work hard for it,” said Swoope-Morrison.
If Morrison does win, her family said they plan to donate a portion of her monetary prize to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC as well as her school.
(To contact the Morrison’s about donations and sponsorship opportunities, email email@example.com.)
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