For the first time in its history, the Summerland Blossom Pageant has a male candidate participating.
This year, nine candidates are participating in the pageant program, with eight women and one man.
The sole male candidate is Sage Stewart, Mr. Dental Centre.
Karen Hooper, head of the royalty program, said Stewart, a Grade 11 student at Summerland Secondary School, approached the pageant organizers in October to ask if he could participate in the program.
“We immediately said absolutely, we would love to have him participate,” Hooper said. “We also let Sage know that having a male student is completely new to our program and that this will be a learning year for all of us.”
Hooper added that the royalty program committee had earlier discussed opening the program to male candidates in order to make it more inclusive, and committee members were considering bringing the change in for the 2020 to 2021 season.
She said opening the program to male students is important in order to give young people skills they will need in the future.
“We feel that in this day and age of electronics, social media and everything digital that it is even more important for young people to learn in person face to face social skills, public speaking skills and interview skills to better prepare them for university and the work force and their future in general,” she said. “We feel this is imperative for all young persons and not just females.”
One of the challenges with expanding the program came because of the funding needed to run the program.
Hooper said the royalty members travel extensively during the year following the pageant. Adding male students requires additional costs as male and female chaperones will now be required and additional hotel rooms are needed to house the male students.
The pageant will be held on the weekend of May 1 to 3, 2020 and will mark the 75th annual pageant.
“Things have changed in the past 75 years and our program is changing too,” Hooper said.
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