DeGagne claims queen crown

With the First and Second Princesses having already claimed their sashes Friday afternoon, Sara DeGagne knew her bid to be crowned the 2005 Fun in the Sun queen was going to end one of two ways.
With only four contestants remaining, one would emerge victorious while three would walk away empty-handed.
“I was pretty nervous,” DeGagne recalled Monday. “I started thinking that I wasn’t going to win but I was excited because there was the chance that I could win.”
And DeGagne did just that—claiming the crown as well as an engraved jewellery box, a new watch, and a $1,500 scholarship towards her post-secondary education.
Her crowning moment Friday afternoon at Pither’s Point capped this year’s queen pageant, which saw the six hopefuls hosting or helping out at a variety of community events over the past three weeks.
Just moments after 2004 FITS queen Alyssa Bruyere placed the tiara on her head, DeGagne, with tears in her eyes and a bright smile on her face, searched for words to describe her elation.
“This is, like, the best experience ever,” she beamed. “I am so distraught, I can’t believe this.”
The 17-year-old Fort High student insisted she wasn’t expecting to hear her name called when the 2005 queen was announced.
“I was hoping that I would [win] but you don’t really expect it,” DeGagne said. “When I did win, I was kind of surprised.”
But Jenna Cousineau, who was named First Princess and earned a $750 scholarship, said she had a hunch her childhood friend would capture the first-place prize.
“I thought Sara was going to win from the beginning,” Cousineau remarked. “I just had a feeling she would.”
Cousineau lauded the selection of DeGagne as the new queen, describing her as “a people person” and noting she “just doesn’t complain about anything.”
Dixie Robar, the assistant manager at Tim Hortons here, DeGagne’s employer and pageant sponsor, was among those on hand for Friday’s crowning.
She said she’s delighted to have the 2005 FITS queen as a member of her staff. “We’re absolutely thrilled that she won,” Robar said. “She deserves it, she’s a very good kid.
“We were definitely all rooting for her,” she added. “She’s a very, very talented young lady.”
In addition to the crowning, other pageant events on Canada Day included the annual picnic basket auction and final questions. The six teens also organized a sandcastle-building contest and each entered a float in the parade.
Other pageant activities included a garage and bake sale, car wash, spaghetti dinner, and the always-popular entertainment night, which was held June 27 at Warp 9.
DeGagne listed last Thursday’s Teddy Bear’s Picnic, where the queen hopefuls helped organize and run activities for the youngsters, as one of her favourite events—no real surprise considering she has aspirations of pursuing a teaching career.
She said she has “always liked being around kids and helping them learn.”
In total, the six vying for the 2005 crown volunteered at about 10 different functions—and nobody missed an event.
Other pageant winners were Brittany Hayes, who claimed the title of Second Princess and a $500 bursary, and Ashley Bombay, who was named “Miss Congeniality” in a secret ballot by her fellow contestants.
Kristine Bruyere and Nikita Mansbridge also took part in the pageant, and DeGagne said all six would have been good choices to wear the crown.
“I thought we all had a good chance of being queen,” she said.
“All the girls were really deserving of the title,” echoed pageant co-organizer Dawn Booth.
Booth added when the trio of judges submitted their scores and the totals were tallied up, all six hopefuls were “really close.”
Win or lose, Cousineau, also 17, said the queen contestants undoubtedly benefited from the opportunity to get more involved in their community and the new friendships they forged in the process.
“We all had so much fun,” she said. “When we were doing it, we weren’t thinking about who was going to win. Once I got to know the girls, that was the last thing on my mind.
“It didn’t matter to me who won.”
“It was absolutely a good [experience],” agreed Hayes. “I wish I could go back and do it again. I miss it already.”
DeGagne, Cousineau, and Hayes began their royal duties on Monday when they rode in the annual Fourth of July parade over in International Falls. The trio also is slated to appear in the annual boat parade July 19 that kicks off the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship.
Both DeGagne and Cousineau, who are on track to graduate from high school together next June, are excited about spending the next 12 months serving as ambassadors for their community.
“I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together,” Cousineau said. “My mom keeps making fun of me and Sara because we don’t want to take off our tiaras.”
Booth, who is office manager at the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, noted the FITS organizing committee always is looking for more events where the royal trio may be able to lend a helping hand.
“We’re going to try to get them involved in a lot of community events this year,” she said. “We want them to be in the public eye as much as possible.”