Beach beauties crowned

Glitter, spotlights and one CSULB student wins the Miss Long Beach title.

Barbara Navarro

Long Beach, meet your new royalty.

Cal State Long Beach student Lana Luyben won the title of Miss Long Beach, while Millikan High School sophomore Hillary Stortz was selected for Miss Teen Long Beach on Saturday.

The crowning for the 58th Miss Long Beach Pageant took place for the first time in the pageant’s history at the CSULB University Theatre Saturday night.

“This isn’t your typical beauty pageant,” said Ashley Prinzen, the outgoing Miss Long Beach for the year of 2007 and sociology graduate from CSULB. “We’re looking for a girl who is civically aware and cares about this city.”

Kristin Bopp, a broadcast journalism student at Long Beach City College, and Erica Derrico, a Polytechnic High School sophomore, were selected as runner-ups of Miss and Miss Teen Long Beach, respectively.

Gaining the local title can lead to being crowned Miss California, like the current reigning Maryam Ahmadinia of Seal Beach, a CSULB communications senior, or the even greater title — Miss Universe.

Long Beach invented the title of Miss Universe in 1952. It is the same televised competition watched globally today.

At the local level, the Misses are expected to fulfill full-time duties such as embracing the performance as the city’s goodwill ambassador, playing the role as official hostesses to countless events and attending ribbon-cuttings throughout the year.

The new Miss Long Beach winners already have a schedule bursting at the seams for the next three weeks, making appearances at such events as the Southern California Special Olympics that will take place at CSULB over the weekend.

“It’s not always fun and glamorous,” Prinzen said of the tiara-topped title. “Most of the time they’re cleaning the beach or volunteering at a homeless shelter.”

But the experience comes with an expanded awareness of the world and an even greater period of personal development, added the departing Miss Teen Long Beach 2007 Seinne Fleming. After graduating from Long Beach Polytechnic High later this month, Fleming will start at Yale University as a freshman in the fall.

It’s also a tradition of sisterhood, one that Luyben warmed up to with her reign as Miss Teen Long Beach in 2004.

The 11 contestants — six in the running for Miss Long Beach, and five in the running for Miss Teen Long Beach — were judged based on a private, pre-show interview in business attire; then on swimwear, evening gown and on-stage questions during the glittery evening show.

Other awards — like most photogenic, the people’s choice and Miss Congeniality — were presented during the gala after pageant at the Gaslamp Restaurant.

Stage presence, maturity and confidence were the key factors for judges—who ranged from restaurant-chain, Chick-fil-A, Director of Marketing Janet Higley, to KABC 790AM newsman Rob Marinko and Long Beach Police Deputy Chief Robert Luna.

The candidates, in return, came prepared with a platform, or a special cause to focus on during of their reign, such as youth education outreach (like Prinzen) or the St. Jude Children hospital (like Ahmadinia).

Asked for a few words of wisdom from the retiring Miss Long Beach 2007, Prinzen replied, “It’s a quote by Gandhi, ‘To find yourself you must lose yourself in the service of others.'”

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