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Westbury’s Jessica Ricco Competing In Miss Long Island Pageant

W.T. Clarke Alum Provides a Behind the Scenes Perspective

Jessica Ricco, a W.T. Clarke High School grad, will take part in the annual Miss Long Island Pageant on Sunday, Aug. 7 at 4 p.m. at the Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts.

Ricco, who began participating in pageants at age 16, said she’s developed a relaxed game-day routine after competing in seven pageants over the years.

“On the day of the pageant, every girl competing has their own routine to get them through the day. There are rehearsals, hair, makeup and question prep for the interview portion of the pageant.

“My plan for the pageant this year is to go with the flow, push myself to compete at the highest level and show improvement from the previous year – winning would obviously be the ultimate goal,” Ricco explained.

Aug. 7 will mark Ricco’s third Miss Long Island pageant, and although she’s never taken the crown home, she’s got plenty to show from her efforts.

“Since I have never actually won a pageant, after the event the feeling that I immediately have is disappointment; however, I always come back for more, and that is because everything I experience before and during the pageant is so great. I have learned so much about myself and I have had the opportunity to meet amazing women who become lifelong friends,” said Ricco.

Movies and television shows often portray pageantry as a ruthless competition, but Ricco said she’s observed quite the contrary.

“Many people think that pageants can be cut-throat, that is especially not true for the Miss Long Island Pageant. Honestly, we are all friendly and even help each other before, during and after the pageant,” explained Ricco, who recently attended a former Miss Long Island’s wedding.

Even still, a friendly competition can bring on some tension, Ricco noted.

“The feeling before and leading up to the pageant is one of excitement and anticipation. Throughout the day of the event there are nerves that begin to build. The good thing for me is that there is so much going on and everything is so fast paced that there isn’t much time to let those feelings take over.

“Throughout the process I have had the opportunity to become friends with these girls that I am competing against. We all have a lot of fun together backstage on the day of the pageant,” said Ricco, who is advocating for the prevention of child abuse and overall well-being of children as her platform.

“I believe that children are helpless and innocent and it is our jobs – as adults, teachers, parents, grandparents and guardians – to be aware, and protect children. It sounds cliché, but children are the future and we need to encourage them to be the best they can be,” she said.

Her preparation, Ricco explained, is equal parts mind and body.

“I make sure I am physically and mentally prepared. I always make sure I eat healthy because we know that it isn’t about being really thin, it is about having a healthy body. However, pageants are not all about beauty, which is evident by the strong intelligent women that are competing in the pageant, so I do prepare mentally by practicing my public speaking and my interview techniques,” Ricco said, noting that upcoming Miss Long Island event consists of several aspects: bathing suit, gown and interview.

“These areas of competition show the judges if you are healthy and active, if you can present yourself elegantly, if you are passionate about your platform and if you can speak publicly,” Ricco added.

While pageantry takes on myriad forms, Ricco said all events promote the idea that women are strong, independent and intelligent and can make a difference.

For more information or to see Jessica in action, visit www.patchoguetheatre.com or www.lipageants.com.