Ms. Washington is another South Whidbey star

"Photo: Peggy Thomas of Langley will compete as Ms. Washington in the Ms. U.S. Continental Pageant in Las Vegas this August.Help with Ms. Washington's expensesEnjoy the music of Desperate Measures and Phil Benton at a benefit event for Peggy Thomas, Ms. Washington 2000, being held at Teddy's on Whidbey on April 8, starting at 7:30 p.m. There will be hors d'oeuvres and dancing, as well as door prizes. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door. For more information call Teddy's at 331-2882 for more information.Peggy Thomas has served in the Navy as an aircraft mechanic, played soccer in an Everett men's league, and says she can build anything. She is also Ms. Washington 2000, representing our state in the 2000 Ms. U.S. Continental Pageant this August in Las Vegas.My 'platform' is being a pioneer for women, Thomas said. Women have to know it's OK to do things out of the norm. It's OK to be capable and skilled and still be very feminine.The mother of two girls, Mariah, 8, and Taylor, 6, Thomas is a hair stylist at Studio A in Langley. This is her second venture into the world of pageantry. As Peggy Stackhouse, she entered the Mrs. Washington 1998 pageant, where she placed in the top 10 and won the physical fitness portion of the competition.I'd seen Carrie Bickley, the 1997 Mrs. Washington, on the Today show, Thomas said. She was bald, and I was so impressed. Talk about being out your comfort zone!Thomas herself was terrified of being in front of an audience, but decided she could do it. Entering three weeks before the pageant, she was the last contestant. While she was taking part in the Mrs. Washington pageant, she developed a friendship with winner Leslie Bereiter, who was also a coordinator of the Ms. U.S. Continental Pageant. She talked me into being a contestant coordinator, so I went to Las Vegas to help out backstage, Thomas said. Her involvement there led to her own entry into this year's competition. It was a good time, she said. There was a lot of tragedy last year. It was time to do something as a self-booster. As an at-large competitor, Thomas went up against other women age 25 to 55, single, married or divorced. The competition can get pretty stiff, she said. But Thomas emerged the winner from 33 contestants, and now wears the crown and sash of Ms. Washington.The judges made their decision on several factors, including community service criteria, poise and presence, and a personal interview. Among her community involvements, Thomas includes volunteering weekly in her daughters' classrooms, membership in the Children's Hospital Guild (for which she contacts local merchants for auction donations), and kids' sports, including coaching the South Whidbey Basketball Association's 6th-8th grade girls team.As for personal presence, she said she was asked in her interview to answer some questions on serious issues -- anything to dig deep -- from her views on abortion to plastic surgery to gays in the military.They tried to cover everything you might be asked by the press or people you meet, Thomas said. You have to be able to handle yourself properly.She is now preparing for the national pageant in Las Vegas, a huge one, she said. It will include a closed room interview with five judges (It's worth 50 percent of the score), a talent presentation in which she'll perform a dance, an evening gown segment and the aerobic wear physical fitness competition. She continues to work out at Momentum gym in Clinton, which is also one of her sponsors. And as Ms. Washington, she'll be meeting people around the state in personal appearances at women's groups, charity organizations and schools before heading to Las Vegas.I'll be in every parade in Washington this summer! she said."

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