Senior Queen Phausha Winklaar (left) and Teen Queen Jondalin proudly show off their crowns.
CARNIVAL VILLAGE--St. Maarten has two new Carnival Queens. Phausha Winklaar took home the crown in the Senior competition on Tuesday night. With her win, she also takes the title of Miss St. Maarten. Jondalin Brown was victorious in the Teen pageant.
First runner-up in the Senior competition was Chalmarie Vlaun, with Mabel Arnaud as second runner-up.
Teen runner-up was Samantha Williams with Ishani Richardson as second runner-up.
The first round of the pageant, consisting of Speech and Cultural Wear, had taken place on in Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort March 22. Points earned in this event were carried over to Tuesday night’s final in which 12 Teen and Senior contestants vied for the two crowns.
Judges Ife Badejo, Angelique Martis-Roumou, Nathalie van Heyingen, Danaë Daal, Sharalee Lint and head judge Kaishah Peters had the difficult task to pick the winners through a point system over various rounds.
After an introductory dance in which the contestants were joined by last year’s Teen Queen D’Shnay Mathew-York and Senior Queen Bria Sorton, each girl came forward to introduce herself briefly, as the girls already had been more extensively introduced in the first round.
It was then straight on to the talent section, where the contestants dealt with a range of social issues. Starting with the seniors, Damiana Blijden delivered a monologue with a dance about being bullied at school, something with which she has personal experience.
Arnaud showed creativity with a skit called “Last Words” in which she convincingly portrayed a woman being hanged for murdering her husband who had sexually assaulted her daughter. The strong message was that people should report this behaviour and not take matters into their own hands.
Winklaar, in her skit, portrayed a busy woman diagnosed with breast cancer, with the message “check your breasts.”
Vlaun also performed a skit in which she gave the message that every person counts and that disabled people should be respected in society. She illustrated this by bringing onto the stage two friends who both have a disability and who received warm applause from the crowd.
Anttonet Baker delivered an original performance with a gospel song illustrating that Jesus loves all people, no matter what mistakes they may have made.
Closing the ranks for the seniors was Sidneila Richardson with “Diary of a showgirl” whose smoking had led to cancer, which saw her jumping into a coffin and being carried off stage.
Teen contestant Ishani Richardson had the support of the crowd when she acted out the role of a preacher, giving a sermon to the crowd, which was met with many “amens” and “hallelujahs.”
Williams followed with a skit about a young girl who goes off on the wrong track due to missing the love of her father, who is not present in her life.
Adreeane Harrigan appeared on stage dressed as a mobile phone, portraying the level to which people are addicted to modern technology.
She was followed by Romaincia Flemming with a poem and a dance dedicated to the culture and history of her grandfather.
Tsjaniqua Jeffrey Lake was a victor, not a victim, in a skit about domestic violence.
Brown, who proved to be a crowd favourite, showed incredible acting skills as she portrayed in a Jamaican accent a teenager getting into trouble as a result of bad parenting.
During a short break, the crowd was entertained by representatives of sponsor Motorworld, who threw beach balls into the crowd.
The senior contestants then appeared on stage together in brightly coloured swimsuits in the swimwear round. The group appearance was followed by individual performances in which the women were judged on fitness and deportment, amongst other things.
Each young woman received big applause from the crowd.
An energetic dance troupe entertained the crowd as they were coming down from the high provided by the senior contestants in their swimwear.
It was then time for one of the highlights of the evening: the costume round. Starting with the Teens, Ishani Richardson looked every inch the Carnival Queen in a multicoloured costume.
Williams impressed as a pink-and-purple bird-like “Pink Empress.”
Harrigan wore a costume that literally lit up the Carnival Village.
Flemming’s zebra costume showed creativity, whilst Lake’s costume portrayed how “children are our treasure” and had two baby dolls incorporated in it.
Brown cemented her position as crowd favourite with a colourful costume which she carried like a true queen.
It was then up to the Seniors, and Blijden appeared in a stunning orange outfit depicting sunset.
Arnaud had a hard act to follow, but managed to impress in “circle of life,” a costume consisting of blue circles.
Winklaar depicted the variety of cultures in St. Maarten with a multicoloured costume.
Vlaun wore a beautiful red costume depicting Mother Earth.
Baker wowed the crowd and photographers alike with a glow-in-the-dark butterfly outfit.
Sidneila Richardson showed off her physique in an orange-and-blue costume that made her appear regal and proud.
After the costume round, there was a break for a drink and a bite to eat while the contestants prepared for the Evening Wear round. Deejays provided a musical interlude and a video showed fragments of speeches the contestants had given during a previous round.
The Evening Wear round was combined with an interview question. The Teens started off the round with Ishani Richardson wearing a white princess gown called “Bedazzled.” In her answer to the interview question she named “communication” as her strength and said she was not sure about her weaknesses, as she was still working on them.
Willams, in a turquoise “Pacific Beauty” dress, said that staying focussed in school was one of the biggest challenges for young people, because of peer pressure and bullying.
Harrigan, in mint green, said she would be a role model for the youths of today by taking care of their community.
Flemming, in a stunning pink dress called “Everlasting Star,” said she had learned in the pageant how to be a proper queen.
Lake said trust was the most valued element in friendship. She made a stunning appearance in a bright red dress called “Passion.”
Brown closed the ranks for the Juniors in a beautiful dress, but had a blackout when she was asked how she would deal with peer pressure if it went against her values.
For the seniors, Blijden, resembling a silver mermaid, said the success for her meant being on the stage taking part in the pageant.
Arnaud, in a classic blue-and-silver dress, said that if she could change a single thing, she’d have people unite to be more successful as a group.
Winklaar stood out in a classic black dress, fluently answering a question about her platform with the response that it would be educational development for children. She added that children are the future, which was well received by the crowd.
Vlaun wore a white dress. If she could pass any law, she would demand stiffer sentences against those who assault children.
Baker was said by many in the crowd to have the most beautiful dress, a classing black-and-silver garment. She said confidence and self-esteem were what the judges should look at most.
Sidneila Richardson was last on stage in a stunning dress and, when asked what was more important, education or experience, she argued that both were important.
After the end of the Evening Wear round, last year’s queens Mathew-York and Sorton made their final walks whilst explaining their achievements as Carnival Queens. It was then time for a final dance of all contestants, which led to the moment for which all had been waiting: the prize giving and the announcement of two new queens.