Armed Forces Day countdown officially kicked off with the opening event of the Armed Forces Day pageant held on Saturday, May 5 at the Hawthorne Convention Center/USO.

This year a Mr. Armed Forces Day started off the night with three young men vying for the position. Miles King was named Mr. Armed Forces Day after being judged by a panel of his peers after reciting a poem.

Always a highlight for parents is the Mini Miss contest where sparkles and toothless smiles shine from the stage. The opening number, “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake from the Trolls movie had each girl showing their dance talents while getting comfortably settled into the routine of having a standing room only crowd looking up to them.

Each girl was given a question, answered to the best of their ability and after much deliberation, the Mini Miss was crowned. Sofeya Madrid was named the 2018 Mini Miss Armed Forces Day winner. Throughout the whole competition, Madrid smiled and showed those judging exactly why she should be chosen. In this very close competition, first time participant, Jemma Reeves was named runner-up.

Joining the judging panels this year were contestants from the Miss Nevada network. Exclaiming, “It was so fun,” were Miss Lake Tahoe Macie Tuell, Miss Nevada’s Outstanding Teen Carli Gumm and Miss Virginia City’s Outstanding Teen Tia Henderson.

These ambassadors for positive role modeling took time to answer questions from contestants and urge them all to keep working hard on their goals.

The Junior Miss Armed Forces Day contestants as well as the Miss Armed Forces Day ladies all took the stage together to rock the big top under the bright lights to “Circus” by Britney Spears. The Miss Armed Forces Day ladies: Arianna MacPherson, Haley Dalton and Ryann Nelms each performed a talent of dancing for the audience whereas the junior contestants were judged by their group dance.

As contestants before them had, each was to answer a question. The answers were well thought through and age appropriate for the young ladies.

The ballots were collected and tallied and the winners were crowned. Ava Lukaszka was named Junior Miss Armed Forces Day with Shaylee Gavin as runner up.

Ryann Nelms was crowed as 2018 Miss Armed Forces Day winner with Haley Dalton accepting her bouquet as the runner up.

Pageant Coordinator Alicia Dalton who has been working with these youth for the last few years explained why she continues to volunteer her time for this pageant, “It’s watching them [the youth] grow. To watch these girls go from shy, nervous little girls to these brave, bold and confident young ladies is exactly why we do this. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?”

Part of the duties of being crowned is to be at Armed Forces Day events next week.

A spokesperson for the Armed Forces Day committee said, “Thank you to Felicia Skvarna and Alicia Dalton for all their hard work and commitment to continuing the pageant. This is a positive experience for today’s youth and will make memories that will last them a lifetime.”