Mr. South Whidbey brings back old favorites

When John Auburn turned 50, he decided that he was going to do something that would embarrass himself.

These are just some of the faces that will appear at the 2016 Mr. South Whidbey pageant at Freeland Hall on Saturday

When John Auburn turned 50, he decided that he was going to do something that would embarrass himself.

So, he dressed up like Lady Gaga and vamped around the stage at the 2012 Mr. South Whidbey Pageant in a parody of the pop singer’s song, “Bad Romance.”

Though he fell short of beating out Nick Welles, Auburn exemplified what he’s told his children.

“I taught my kids: Don’t take yourself so serious,” Auburn said. “Laugh at yourself and don’t even care what people think.”

Auburn will take the stage once again and perform at the 2015 Mr. South Whidbey Pageant at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 3 at Freeland Hall, hosted by the Friends of Friend Medical Support Fund. Tickets cost $30 and may be purchased at Moonraker Books in Langley or Paint Escape in Freeland. All proceeds from the event are donated to the Friends of Friends fund, which offers financial help to people on South Whidbey strapped with medical-related bills they cannot afford.

Just like they have every year, contestants will put their talents and personalities on display to gain the admiration and votes from the community in the hopes of winning the coveted title of Mr. South Whidbey. One vote is equal to $1, and the contestant who raises the most money wins.

The 10th annual pageant has all of its original elements, such as the Q&A and talent presentation, but there is an added twist. The nine participating contestants are all returning crowd favorites from previous pageants.

“If you missed them the first time, here’s a chance to see [them],” said Christi Ruscigno, chair woman of the Mr. South Whidbey Committee. “It gives people a chance to see the more unique acts that have come over the years.”

This year’s contestants are Auburn, Welles, Rocco Gianni, George Henny, Randy Hudson, Paul Matthews, Frank Parra, Jim Scullin and Gordon Stewart. Sue Frause will also return as the Mistress of Ceremonies.

“It’s a celebration of what this group has accomplished — 10 years and raising all that money,” Auburn said. “But then also, people are paying $30 for a seat and a good cause and they’re gonna get some really good entertainment. I think bringing it back to the island, ramping it up, is really good and it’s gonna be a good highlight.”

More than 20 other previous contestants will also be part of the show when they are introduced in the opening ceremonies of the pageant.

Hudson, who won the first event in 2006 as a one-man band by singing an original song, playing the bass, guitar, and harmonica, was glad to see the event had added spice to it this year.

“I think it’s a nice gesture from Friends of Friends to recognize not only the nine participants, but to also invite everybody back, because I’m sure every guy who’s done it has put a lot into it and gotten a lot out of it,” Hudson said. “I thank Friends of Friends for what they do and inviting us back.”

The return of previous contestants has also upped the competition level, Hudson said. Hudson has put time and effort into making and passing out flyers to friends and neighbors to endorse his run for the title.

“I think every guy there has got a good chance and they’ve proven it and they’ve done it before,” Hudson said. “I think it’s really going to be up for grabs.”

Mr. South Whidbey 10th anniversary

If you cannot attend the event but would like to support your favorite contestant(s), you may vote online at by clicking the Donate Online button, or send a check to Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, P.O. Box 812, Langley, WA 98260. Be sure to include your candidate’s name in the memo line of your check. Mail-in and online votes must be received by midnight Oct. 2.


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