With an escalator whirring mall patrons up and down just to the left of the stage, and a host of audience members looking on from the second level, "Miss Springfield 2005" was crowned at the annual pageant, on Thursday, June 2 at Springfield Mall.
Natalie Saba of Springfield, a first-year student at Northern Virginia Community College, took home the crown, beating out 15 other contestants during the 60-minute competition. Saba won a $1,000 college scholarship, as well as a prize package which included bouquets and mall gift certificates.
"I'm overjoyed," said Saba, who plans to transfer to James Madison University in the spring of 2006 to study physical therapy and sports medicine. "It was really fun, and I'm so glad I did it."
Saba, who was homeschooled in high school, is an accomplished dancer who studies at Northern Virginia Dance Academy in Manassas, and performs with their troupe, the Asaph Dance Ensemble. The win was unexpected, she said.
"I was hearing them say my number in my head, and then I heard it," she said. "It took me a minute to realize they were actually saying it out loud."
Cherelle Gaines, an acting student at New York University from Fairfax Station, won first runner-up prize, while Tina Montgomery of Springfield, a George Mason University student, won second runner-up. Jennifer Espinoza, a student at Washington-Lee High in Arlington, was awarded "Miss Congeniality" by other contestants. All three girls won scholarships.
The event, sponsored by Springfield Mall, and the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce, was hosted by John Frazier and Tammy Shapiro, local business owners and members of the Chamber. The 2004 Miss Springfield, Sarah Boschung, is a student at the University of Virginia, and was on hand to present Saba her crown and sash.