After Shannon Myers was crowned Miss Springfield 2002, she went to Bennigan's in Springfield Mall with her family to celebrate. Myers, 21, was still sporting the crown, sash and flowers, but it didn't sink in until she entered the restaurant.
"I kept my gown and crown on," Myers said. "People clapped for me when I went in. It was funny. Crown, sash, flowers, everything."
While some might have been embarrassed, Myers looked at the title and the whole Miss Springfield experience as positive. She's gained skills in self-esteem, public speaking, overcoming fears and a confidence boost, plus money for school and the title.
"It all works out," she said. "There's nothing negative."
All Myers' Miss Springfield experiences were captured in a scrapbook she brought with her to the first rehearsal of the new Miss Springfield court on Tuesday, May 20. Myers recognized a few faces from last year and shared her book with some of the girls.
"I made it last summer," she said of the book. "There's the big check that I wasn't allowed to keep."
Jennifer Johnson is in the pageant for the fourth time. She remembered Myers.
"I love being in front of people and on a stage," Johnson said. "It was very positive. That's why I keep coming back."
Mall marketing specialist Leticia Click is in charge of the pageant with Springfield Chamber of Commerce member Tammy Shapiro. Click remembered another pageant contestant, Melissa Wilmouth, that took her experience further.
"She's competing on Broadway," Click said.
MYERS IS HOME from Virginia Commonwealth University for the summer, where she's earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the same time. She's a junior now but earning both degrees will take five years. She plans on teaching after graduation and looks back to her own experience in school as inspiration.
"I know how it is when you don't have a teacher that you like," she said.
On Thursday, May 29, Myers will hand the crown over to the new Miss Springfield.