By MIKE CHAIKEN
Lake Compounce will have a Polish flair this June as the annual Miss Polonia Connecticut pageant comes to the Starlight Ballroom at the amusement park on the Bristol/ Southington townline.
“We wanted to try the new location because (the pageant) is going to be held during the biggest Polish Festival in the area,” said Plainville business woman Bogumila Gladysz, who has supervised the pageant for 12 years and whose husband is the license holder for the statewide production.
The pageant has been held in October at the Polish National Home in Hartford for the past several years.
But a change in the date of the national Miss Polonia pageant necessitated a change in venue for 2014, said Gladysz.
“This year, the national finals are scheduled for September and all states have to produce pageant at least a month before so the delegate winner of the state pageant will have time to prepare for that,” said Gladysz.
Gladysz was already familiar with the ballroom at Compounce and thought it would be an appropriate new home for Miss Polonia Connecticut.
“I saw the Miss Connecticut pageant for teens hosted at the Starlite ballroom years ago,” said Gladysz. “I hope our contestants will like it.”
The location also will coincide with another popular event within the Polish community in Connecticut.
“The pageant will tie in with Polish Days at Lake Compounce, which was started about 12 years ago,” said Gladysz. She explained Polish Days was the brainchild of her husband and endorsed by the Polish American Congress in New Britain.” It’s been a “great success” ever since, said Gladysz.
There will be some other changes in Miss Polonia Connecticut other than the location, said Gladysz.
“This year, we will include younger contestants because we’ve noticed that more and more of the younger females are attracted to pageants. Some had indicated that they like the tradition of selecting the ‘Miss’ who will wear the crown and represent Polish community in the state. It’s kind of being proud of their Polish heritage.”
“The Miss Polonia Connecticut pageant is one of the most anticipated events within Polish community because everybody wants to get to know whose females, who are not only pretty but intelligent, talented, and (are) very involved with everything Polish,” said Gladysz. “Why not help them be introduced to the greater community to show pride and to continue the tradition. In Poland, the Miss Polonia pageant has continued for over 80 years now.”
As for why the contestants seek out the Miss Polonia crown, Gladysz said, “Some girls are trying to see if they could be discovered and continue on with modeling or other careers. They do follow some of the Miss Polonia winners who recently became ‘celebrities’ on local TV, radio, or (other) media.”
As for some of the success stories of former Miss Polonia, Gladysz said, “(a) good example would be Sara O’Leary and Magdalena Slysz, who were asked to (host) news broadcast for the New Britain Herald (and Bristol Press) on-line. Now, Maggie works for Fox News Channels 61.”
Additionally, Gladysz said, “Sabina Gadecki, Miss Polonia USA, who is from Chicopee, Mass., just became an actress and starred in many movies and series like ‘The House of Lies’ on Showtime. Sabina was the first Polish girl born in the United States who received the title of Miss Polonia World. She appeared on stage in Poland and was the host of the ‘Poker Tour’ on ESPN.”
Furthermore, Gladysz said, “We had some former contestants audition for reality shows, TV commercials or they started their own modeling agency, like Monika Pietrzak, who was Miss Polonia USA and Miss Connecticut USA a (few) years ago.”
“We can go on and on,” said Gladysz. “but the girl who I’m personally most proud of is Jessica Rafalowski of Suffield. Born in this state, she received a bachelor’s degree from Stetson University of Florida and when she couldn’t enter Miss Polonia Connecticut pageant because she was in school in Florida, she entered Miss Florida pageant and she won, without even realizing that this will later on take her to the best pageant in the world, Miss USA, and that she would work for Donald Trump and would be collecting other titles such as: Beach Bunny Model of the Year, Maxim Magazine’s 100 Hottest, and become a super model for many agencies. Recently, she became a super woman and wife as she tied the knot with the guy of her dreams. In 2010, she received the title Miss Polonia USA.”
“(Rafalowski) remains close to our organization and helps each year by agreeing to judge the pageant or being the emcee,” said Gladysz.
“I love working with those young woman to later watch them grow into mature acomplished business woman or employees of great companies, etc.,” said Gladysz.
Additionally, said Gladysz, “We are planning on producing a program booklet with all the contestants photographs taken by Yolanda Christine Studio in New Britain. Our sponsors will have an opportunitu to place an ad in the book along with ‘Good Luck’ wishes for the girl that they want to sponsor.”
Contestants for Miss Polonia will be judged on cocktail Dress, swimwear, evening gowns, and and onstage questions.
“On-stage questions and answers are integral part of the pageant and the most stressful for the contestants,” said Gladysz, “but we do train them how to walk, how to take a deep breath before they walk on the stage and before they start speaking. We have a wonderful choreographer, former Miss Polonia Connecticut Monique Manczuk, who runs her own fashion and modeling business.”
As for prizes, Gladysz said, the winner will receive a round trip ticket to Poland or a vacation to the Bahamas, which ever she chooses.
As of the first week of May, there were 10 contestants between the ages of 14 to 22 lined up. “I’m still recruiting more,” said Gladysz. “Our first orientation is scheduled for May 25 at the East Side Restaurant, 131 Dwight St. in New Britain at 4 p.m.
Tickets to Miss Polonia and Lake Compounce, if purchased from Polish American Congress, will be available at $23. Tickets will include a full day of rides and everything the park has to offer. Prices at the door will be more expensive.
The Miss Polonia Connecticut will be held Saturday, June 14 at 7 p.m. atthe Starlight Ballroom at Lake Compounce in Bristol, during the Annual Polish Festival sponsored by Polish American Congress of Connecticut.
Contestants can still enter the competition. Participation is open to females of Polish descent between the ages of 14 and 27, who reside, attend schools, or work in Connecticut. All single women of Polish descent are encourage to sign up to be the next Miss Polonia Connecticut 2015 crown, said Gladysz. The new Miss Polonia Connecticut 2015 will represent Connecticut during the national Miss Polonia USA Pageant scheduled for September 2014 at New York City.
Those females interested are invited to apply by phone, fax, e-mail or in person. The organizing committee can be reached at (860) 883-2277 or via email at MissPoloniaCt @gmail.com. An orientation seminar will be held Sunday, May 25 at 4 p.m. at the East Side Restaurant, 131 Dwight St., New Britain.
Deadline for applications is June 1.
For more information, call pageant coordinator, Bogusia Gladysz at (860)883-2277. Tickets to Lake Compounce, will be distributed by the Polish American Congress and many Polish businesses in the New Britain and Bristol areas.
By MIKE CHAIKEN