Ann Pennington
Ann Pennington

Why do people enter pageants? I don’t mean the 18-year old aspiring model or actress who is looking for that illusive break that will differentiate them from the hordes of other aspiring models and actresses. Why would a married Manhattan mother want to do a pageant? Well, as it turns out for Ann Pennington, because it’s actually a lot of fun and following the passing of the family’s beloved four-legged member, it’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

A quick Google search tells us that pageantry has actually been around for hundreds of years, beginning in Europe before exploding in the U.S in the 1950’s. These days it is still going strong, not only with the high profile events we still see on television or read about in a multitude of press outlets, but through a myriad of local and national “crowns” for Miss, Mrs., Ms. and Elite titles. Have a desire to compete? There is most likely a system and competition for you…

Ann Pennington, originally from Las Vegas, has lived in Manhattan for six years. She moved to New York with her husband Christopher and Napoleon, their French Bulldog, after some time together in Hong Kong. Napoleon was rescued in Hong Kong and relocated with his new family and was soon joined by Crawford, the Penningtons’ now four-year old son. Ann was able to mix the insane amount of work looking after a child in Manhattan with precious moments with Napoleon and an ever-growing dedication to causes like Covenant House New York, Autism Speaks, and Project Exodus. Unfortunately, Napoleon fell ill in early 2016, suffering simultaneously from three different cancers.

Ann Pennington
Ann Pennington

Despite having competed in a couple of pageants in her youth, with everything going on — weekly visits to the vets for Napoleon’s chemo, nursery for Crawford, and other hectic Manhattan normality — competing in a pageant was the last thing that Ann needed. But as anyone who has had to deal with a loss will know, sometimes a distraction is exactly what is needed. A pageant, it turns out, is actually a lot more than just a distraction, it’s a chance for real life escapism. A whirlwind of dresses, shoes, makeup and hair.

What may not be apparent to the outside world is the courage, conviction and impact that is being driven by the ladies — and gentlemen — of the pageant world. Many people have a fear of public speaking. However, a competitor in a pageant not only has to do that, but has to speak publicly in swimwear or fitness gear. Yes, while being “judged.” This courage drives them to make an impact on the world. Even today, the sight of an elegant lady with a sash, crown, a smile and a wave still warms and opens the heart.

Ann Pennington
Ann Pennington

International stardom, riches or even a well-subscribed YouTube channel are not really in the offering for the Ms. or the Mrs. of the American Beauty pageant system. But collectively, all of this pageant’s contestants — and similar pageants — have worked to the benefit for many worthy causes. They have raised important awareness for charities that are meaningful to them and have encouraged others to get involved. Also of note is that the pageant has fostered new friendships and generated fun for its participants.

On Jun. 22 at the Radisson Resort Celebration-Orlando in Florida, Ann Pennington was honored as the winner of the Mrs. American Beauty 2016 pageant, and we are pretty certain that Napoleon is looking proudly down from heaven at his mummy, cheeky grin and all.