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Shining in the spotlight

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By Kirsten Laskey

A pageant can be a dirty business. Sometimes contestants sabotage each other in a war for a glittery crown. But the Mrs. New Mexico competition was different. How is that known locally? Because Los Alamos had one of its own in the pageant.

Bernadette Lauritzen put on the sash, the pretty evening dress and even braved wearing a swimsuit to help promote the townsite’s 60th anniversary, which was held Saturday at the Roy E. Disney Center in Albuquerque.

“It was a really good experience,” Lauritzen said.

While she didn’t win the crown, she and her husband did earn an award for marriage longevity. No, that wasn’t because they were oldest couple, she joked.  Lauritzen and her husband Chad have been married 19  years.

All the contestants helped one another whether it was fixing a malfunctioning zipper or prepping for the spotlight. “Everybody was just really pleasant,” she said.

Although the experience was positive, Lauritzen said she is not planning to pursue any more pageants. However, “I think it definitely broaden my horizons,” she said.

Luaritzen said it felt strange to fundraise  for herself. She conducted several bake sales to pay for her participation in the pageant.

So what did her family think of her involvement? “They thought it was fun,” she said. Besides her family, four families from her block traveled to Albuquerque to show their support.

She said it was “beyond kind of them to come and support my effort.”

There were 18 contestants in the pageant, although Lauritzen said not everyone showed up at the pageant. Dena Curran, Mrs. Alamogordo, won the pageant. The competition kicked off with a meet and greet period Thursday before rehearsals were held on Friday.

Saturday, the contestants performed interviews and the show kicked off later that evening. Although Lauritzen said she enjoyed watching her fellow contestants rip off their high heel shoes and race to change attire for the next section of the pageant, a true highlight was fighting with  the zipper on former Mrs. New Mexico Denise Brown’s dress. The debacle led to Brown losing her crown and Lauritzen missing her entrance on the stage.

But like true pageant contestants, they handled it with  style. Brown plunked her crown back on her head and Laurtizen made a graceful entrance back to the stage.