ATLANTIC CITY — Having rested after a hectic two weeks spent at the 2018 Miss American Pageant, Miss North Carolina Victoria Huggins is ready to jump back into her role representing the state.
“It was nice to come down from cloud 49. I went way past cloud nine,” Huggins said. “It’s been two weeks of an emotional roller coaster.”
After not making the finalists in the event, during which Miss North Dakota Cara Mund was crowned as Miss America, the 23-year-old Huggins is adamant that the pageant was one of the best experiences of her life.
“It was wonderful just stepping on that stage for the first time,” she said. “Just knowing how I have been trying and trying for five years and it finally happens; I was in tears.”
Huggins’ mother, Beverly Huggins, recalled the experience of seeing her daughter on the Miss America stage in Atlantic City.
“As a mom, it was amazing just to see her living her dream up on that stage,” Beverly said. “There was a moment when I just saw her as that 8-year-old girl singing in church.”
Huggins competed four times for Miss Carolina before winning the title on her fifth try.
She said she felt prepared for the tough questions asked during the Miss America pageant.
“I could’ve spoken in front of Congress,” she said.
If the Miss North Carolina pageant was the playoffs, competing for Miss America was like the Super Bowl, Huggins said.
“The most difficult part was knowing that seven people are going to determine the next course of your life and you have 15 minutes to make a impression,” she said.
Huggins competed in preliminary rounds Sept. 6, 7, and 8. The scores was tallied and combined into an overall score.
“I did Victoria Huggins to the fullest,” she said.
Huggins sang “I Will Always Love You” and competed on the platform of Alzheimer’s awareness. Huggins recently was featured in People Magazine for her support for the cause, which is the use of music to help patients retrieve memories.
“Would it have been awesome to win? Yes, but is it still awesome that I lost. Yes, because I get to come back and be Miss North Carolina,” Huggins said.
Huggins was candid in her blog.
She wrote: “My heart leapt out of my chest when I heard Chris Harrison say ‘Miss North’… then pitfall as he said ‘Dakota.’ The heartbreak in having to sit on the benches provided, knowing I would not get to sing, wear my beautiful evening gown, or give my opinion on world events felt like an elephant on my chest.”
Huggins said she shared a moment with Cara Mund as she was packing up to head back to North Carolina to continue her title reign.
“I heard her call my name, and she has a very distinctive voice, and we just ran to each other and started hugging,” Huggins said.
At the competition Huggins said she bonded with the other contestants, and built relationships she believes will endure. Huggins said she grew as a person and learned to not be so reliant on her family. During rehearsals, contestants had to put away their phone so in moments of stress they couldn’t call family to vent or hear reassuring words.
“It really is a sisterhood,” she said. “It’s such a misconception. Are we competitive? Yes, but at the end of the day, we support each other.”
Huggins had the opportunity to room with Miss New Jersey, whose state hosts the pageant.
“I was tickled to death,” Huggins said. “I’m a people person and she knew everybody. We got along so well.”
Huggins documented her time during the pageant in her journal in order to keep up with all her experiences.
“I just don’t want to forget anything,” she said.
Although her favorite experience was walking out on the stage, Huggins said another memorable moment was the Show Us Your Shoe Parade, where each contestant dressed up and showed a shoe that represents their state. Huggins’ costume was inspired by Krispy Kreme and her shoe had a doughnut on it.
“When I lifted that shoe up and showed off that doughnut everyone just died laughing,” she said.
Reach Tomeka Sinclair at 910-416-5865