Sunday, June 7, 2009


Last year, Harrah's Resort and Casino became the new home of the MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA PAGEANT. This year, the 2009 pageant was held on Thursday, June 4th. Elegant ladies 60 years old and over, came from different parts of the Garden State, and graced the stage of the Concert Venue Theater.

The pageant began with a patriotic salute led by the Atlantic City High School Junior ROTC, and a stirring rendition of "God Bless America", was sung by New Jersey State Pageant Director, Johanne Santori. Helen Halpin McCarney served as Mistress of Ceremonies, and was assisted by Johanne Santori. A comedienne and fabulous entertainer, Helen's comedy routines, songs and impersonations brought the house down with laughter. At 93 years young, pianist Elva Lawrence, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 1987, delighted the audience with a surprise medley of songs, and had everyone clapping and singing along. Choreographer Melanie Brough staged a clever number for the contestants to the song "LADY IN RED", in which she also danced. Operatic soprano, Josephine Araniti, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2007, sang the aria, "Signore Ascolta", from Puccini's opera, TURANDOT. As her final high Bb rang through the theater, people stood up and shouted "bravo"!

Outgoing queen, Jo Ann Gordon presented a video montage of her year's reign. Her farewell speech was touching and eloquent. She concluded with a poignant rendition of the song "Home", from the Broadway show, WICKED. The audience was moved by her performance and applauded her generously. Jo Ann Gordon, MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2008, is a beautiful, intelligent, generous and gracious woman, and as Queen, she stayed true to the ideals of SENIOR AMERICA. She has the love and respect of all her NJ Cameo Club sisters.

The moment finally arrived and a hush fell over the audience, as everyone waited anxiously for the announcement of the judges results. The ladies lined up across the stage, dressed in gorgeous evening gowns, each hoping to be chosen MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2009. But, alas, the enviable title could only be awarded to one woman ... and that lucky lady is: BERNADETTE DUDEK! The audience was delighted with the judges decision, as they stood up and applauded and cheered for their new Queen, Bernadette Dudek.

Bernadette comes from Manchester and lives in La Rennaisance Adult Community. A tall and statuesque woman, Bernadette looked stunning, wearing a light blue, A-shaped strapeless gown, with a demure front slit. For her Talent Presentation, she sang a lively rendition of "I Could Have Danced All Night". When her name was called, Bernadette broke down, shedding tears of happiness. Outgoing Queen Jo Ann Gordon, did the honors of crowning Bernadette, pinned on the banner, and presented her with a trophy and a bouquet of red roses. As she took the traditional Queen's walk downstage, Bernadette looked simply radiant, smiling and throwing kisses to all her subjects. Jim Craine, popular Atlantic City entertainer affectionately known as the "singing lifeguard", sang the "Ms New Jersey Senior America" theme song. At that point, all pandemonium broke loose when photographers, family and friends, and well-wishers emerged onto the stage to congratulate their new Queen.

The 2009 Ladies of the Queen's Court includes: REBECCA ORSATTI, vocalist, 1st runner up; KAY VIGUE, vocalist, 2nd runner up; EILEEN T. RENDERS, presentation of health issues, 3rd runner up; CAROL LELLI, dance, 4th runner up.

During the coming year, Bernadette will have many opportunities and responsibilities as MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA 2009. One responsibility in particular is to carry on the mission of SENIOR AMERICA INC., which is "to promote the positive aspects of aging". As delegate, Queen Bernadette Dudek will represent the State of New Jersey at the National Pageant, which will also be held at Harrah's, during the week of October 4th - 8th. At that time, she will compete for the title of MS SENIOR AMERICA 2009. The NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA PAGEANT and the NEW JERSEY CAMEO CLUB are proud to sponsor Bernadette and wish her well.

Anyone else wishing to sponsor her and/or become a patron of the MS NEW JERSEY SENIOR AMERICA PAGEANT and the NEW JERSEY CAMEO CLUB, can call: Mrs. Johanne Santori, Ms New Jersey Senior America State Pageant Director, (609) 822-7441.

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