Song and dance bring out the best in Heather Haggin.
Stepping to the music of Jason Mraz’s “I Won’t Give Up,” the 22-year-old Kent woman seized the moment and the Miss Auburn crown at the Performing Arts Center on Saturday night.
For Haggin, who has been a part of the Miss Auburn Scholarship program since she was a “Little Sister,” capturing the tiara came on her fourth try, and that experience on the brightly-lit stage served her well this time around.
“Absolutely (helps),” Haggins said of her familiarity with the pageant. “I’ve been wanting this for so long. It is really something special to accomplish this.”
Haggin won more than $7,000 in awards, gifts and scholarships and automatically qualifies for the Miss Washington Pageant later this year. The Miss Auburn program, sponsored by the Auburn Noon Lions Club, is one of the largest events of its kind in the country and serves as an official preliminary to the Miss Washington and Miss America Scholarship pageants.
Haggin overcame challenges from six other talented contestants. She takes the crown from Cami Warden, who shone at the Miss Washington Pageant.
Alexis Florence was first runner-up and Whitney Van Vleet was second runner-up.
“I am feeling ecstatic. I was so surprised,” said Haggin, who was first runner-up in 2015 and second runner-up in 2013. “Everybody did so well this year. There is not one thing that I could even have expected to have done differently. … I am so happy to have won.”
Haggin, a Kentwood High School and Green River College graduate, is a dance instructor and choreographer at Kent’s Allegro Performing Arts Academy, where she performed as a dancer for 12 years. She also spent some time in Los Angeles at the American Musical and Dramatic Arts Academy. She was an original cast member of Radio Disney for four years and a youth arts commissioner for the city of Kent.
Working with kids brightens her day.
“I find so much joy in that,” Haggin said of her work. “Kids are so happy. It radiates … and you can take in that happiness.”
Haggin has come far in her young life. Raised by her grandparents since age 5, Haggin began to dance when she was just a tot.
“You can’t believe (how proud I am),” teary-eyed Mogi Haggin said of her granddaughter.
Haggin had wished for her mother, also named Heather, to be there for her crowning moment. But the Auburn nurse couldn’t find someone to cover her shift, Haggin said.
“She remains a big part of my life,” Haggin said of her mom.
Haggin is looking forward to visiting schoolchildren to promote her platform: preventing childhood obesity.
The Auburn Noon Lions sponsored her pageant efforts. Her Little Sister is Katie Fernandez.
Sara Koenig won the People’s Choice Award, an audience-participation effort that raised $1,25o for the Auburn Food Bank.
Miss Auburn contestants were scored and judged the following way: private interview, 25 percent; lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit, 15 percent; talent, 35 percent; on-stage interview 5 percent; and evening wear, 20 percent.
Enz tops teen field
Another gifted dancer, Elizabeth Enz, claimed Miss Auburn’s Outstanding Teen title. Enz, 15, a sophomore at Auburn Mountainview High School, follows her sister, Amanda, who took the same honor in 2013.
“I was so excited, so surprised,” Enz said of grabbing the crown. “This means so much. I am so honored to be able to win. It’s such an amazing opportunity.”
For her talent segment, Enz stepped to the jazz dance number, “Bling.”
Enz receives more than $3,000 in awards, gifts and scholarships and automatically entry into Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen Pageant. She succeeds Jaclyn Seifert, who performed well at the state pageant.
Molen Orthodontics sponsored Enz, who ran on the platform of promoting financial literacy. Her Little Sisters are Siena Cole and Avery Moore.
Alexa McNaughton was first runner-up.
Teen contestants were scored and judged differently: private interview 35 percent; lifestyle and fitness, 10 percent; talent, 35 percent; evening wear/on-stage interview, 20 percent.