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Hometown crowd roots for beauty

Wherever Keelie Sheridan went in Albany this past weekend, she was greeted with shouts of “Brooklyn!”

Representing the borough in the Miss New York pageant, held in the state’s capital, the Manhattan Beach resident was amazed at how many shoutouts she got while she and the other New York competitors went about town, sporting their sashes emblazoned with the areas they were from.

“It really seemed like no matter where you’d go, you met someone who lived in Brooklyn or was from Brooklyn,” says Sheridan, 23, a student at Empire State College studying English and theater. “I would be sitting in a restaurant and from across the restaurant someone would yell ‘Brooklyn!’ That didn’t happen to anyone else.”

One of 21 contestants who competed for the title of Miss New York, who then goes on to vie for the title of Miss America, Sheridan was the fourth runner up. Placing in the top five was a marked difference from last year, when she competed in Miss New York representing her home town of Montgomery and Fulton counties in upstate New York and didn’t make the top 10.

“I felt I had a lot more preparation and a lot more support from my local community this time around,” said Sheridan, whose “dream team” of Brooklyn sponsors included Bikram Bay Ridge Yoga and Bend and Bloom in Park Slope, Bond Street Studio, Pacific Tanning Salon in Park Slope, and Bensonhurst Dental. “It made a tremendous difference.”

In their quest for the crown, contestants competed in categories such as talent (Sheridan showed off her Irish step dancing skills), swim suit, evening wear, and interview, one of Miss Brooklyn’s favorite portions of the competition.

“Sitting in the audience, you don’t get to hear contestants talk,” says Sheridan. “It’s nice to give the audience a feel for who you are as a person, and relate a personality to the person that they see on stage.”

And while the outgoing Miss New York, Leigh−Taylor Smith, is a former Miss Brooklyn herself, having won last year’s local pageant, Sheridan says the queen didn’t show any favoritism in giving out advice over the course of the competition.

Smith ultimately passed along her crown to Miss Westchester’s Alyse Zwick, a 23−year−old CUNY student from Scarsdale.

Always a gracious beauty queen, Sheridan said Zwick will make a “fantastic Miss New York.”

“I could have seen every single one of [the contestants] as Miss New York,” said Sheridan. “It was really heartening to see the caliber of the young women we have in New York.”

Also representing Brooklyn this past weekend was 17−year−old Melanie Gowrie, a LaGuardia High School student who was the second runner up in the Outstanding Teen competition.

While she lost out on the crown, Sheridan will be coming back to Brooklyn with $1,000 in scholarship money, as well as other gifts from sponsors, and will continue to serve in her role as Miss Brooklyn.

Before she starts up school again in the fall, the summer will keep her busy, as she plans on developing an arts program at the Block Institute in Gravesend, serving as a guest ringmaster at the Coney Island Boom A Ring circus, participating in a summer reading series at the Coney Island branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, and working with the Sean Casey Animal Rescue in Bay Ridge.

Getting closer and closer to the top, Sheridan still hasn’t taken her eyes off the prize. At 23, she is still eligible to compete for one for more year, though it would have to be through a different regional pageant, such as Miss Metropolitan.

Ideally, she would love to continue to try and represent Brooklyn.

“I’m convinced I have the best borough,” said Sheridan. “It’s the best part of New York to represent.”

For more information on the Miss Brooklyn competition, go to www.brooklynqueens.org or call 313−492−0946.

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