Crowning moment

LIHUE — Thunderous applause erupted from the audience at Kauai Community College’s Performing Arts Center Saturday night as Nicholette Levinthol and Sarah Manuel were crowned the 2015 Miss Garden Isle and Miss Paradise Kauai.

“It feels amazing,” said Levinthol when asked about winning Miss Garden Isle. “It was such a short notice that I ran in this pageant and I prepared really hard and I’m happy I got the title.”

Levinthol’s pageant sister and friend, Manuel, echoed those sentiments.

“I was definitely a last-minute contestant but I’m so glad I did it. It’s an amazing experience and I can’t wait for Miss Hawaii,” said the new Miss Paradise Kauai.

Each of the ladies smiled in their evening gowns as they received checks for $10,000 for Argosy University in addition to their titled crowns, sashes, koa bowls, bouquets and trophies. Other prizes included Kauai Products baskets, $150 earrings, a Smith’s Garden dinner for two and many other gifts.

The first- and second-place runners-up for the pageant were Guinevere Davenport and Hualalai Grance, who received $8,000 and $6,000 scholarships for Argosy University along with other awards.

The journey was a nerve-wracking one, the winners said.

“My heart, if you could not see it, it was pumping. It was coming out of my chest I was so nervous,” said Manuel.

Levinthol agreed.

“It was really nerve-wracking but I tried to be as confident as I could and it all worked out in the end,” said Levinthol.

The competition kicked off at 7 p.m. with a performance from Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O’ Leina’ala. That was followed by an introduction by the former Miss Paradise Kauai, Topaz Fernandez, who also did a special hula dance about Kauai for the competition.

The pageant was then broken up into judged phases, which consisted of lifestyle and fitness, talent, evening wear and an on-stage question.

The questions for the contestants were based on the platforms they chose to represent. Levinthol chose “fighting obesity within our youth,” while Manuel selected “promoting a positive lifestyle.”

“I would like to educate people about my platform as well as to set an example for our society and community here on Kauai,” said Levinthol.

“I definitely want to uphold my platform as well and promote it here on Kauai to live a positive lifestyle, and I hope I influence the younger and older generation to have a better life,” said Manuel.

Manuel and Levinthol will promote their platforms during their reigns and as they travel to Oahu to represent Kauai in the Miss Hawaii Pageant, which will take place May 30.

Levinthol intends to go to schools to speak, in addition to going to the gym and trying to inspire others.

Manuel wishes to do the same, by “taking the right step in the right direction every day with those positive attitudes and positive decisions.”

The judges for the pageant included Sgt. Roderick Green, community relations sergeant for the Kauai Police Department; Dolly Kanekuni, president of the Hawaii Children’s Theater; Richard Fugmann, manager of the Elephant Walk Store; Christina Gabriel, general manager of Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club; and Anthony Wayne Cruz, member of the Health and Wellness Committee. The executive director of the pageant was Rose Dahle.

Manuel and Levinthol both said they were encouraged by their friends and family to take part in the competition. They also encouraged other young women who would like to become contestants in future pageants.

“I would definitely say reach for the stars because anything is possible,” said Manuel.

“Go for it. It’s a great experience and it’ll boost your self-confidence, no matter what,” said Levinthol.

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