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Miss Kitsap, Poulsbo win over crowds

Within moments of being crowned, it was already clear the new Miss Kitsap, Hannah Orando, 18, has an entourage. The Central Kitsap High School senior's friends swamped the front of the stage as soon as they were allowed and plotted on how to celebrate their friend's new title.

While Orando was a bit stunned by the announcement, her friends certainly weren't.

They all said it differently, but Allie Rue, 17, summed it up: "Hannah is awesome."

Orando wowed the packed Bremerton High School auditorium Saturday night with her polished performance of "O Mio Babbino Caro," by Puccini, solidifying her slot as the top choice to represent Kitsap County in the Miss Washington Scholarship Organization pageant this summer.

For the new Miss Poulsbo, the third time's a charm, as this was the third year in a row Heidi Nicks, 22, a nursing student at Seattle University competed for the opportunity to represent the Viking City. The key to her success this year, she said, was to relax, have fun and be herself. Her personality shone through when, upon hearing her name announced, she did a little dance and beckoned her Little Sister to the stage.

Nicks' first words as Miss Poulsbo were to her Little Sister, 8-year-old Chloe Whitbeck, a student at Vinland Elementary School.

"We get to ride in the car," Nicks said, satisfying Chloe's curiosity.

For Nicks, it's been a long journey with humble beginnings.

"I used to deliver the North Kitsap Herald," she said in the few moments between the pageant and the after-party. "I used to ride my bike all over my neighborhood."

Now, she'll ride the streets of Poulsbo in style: with a chauffeur and a driver.

As of Saturday night, the title — and the life change that comes along with it — had not yet sunk in for neither Orando nor Nicks.

"I've been down this road before," Nicks said. "In every pageant, there's that moment where you're not quite sure; but it's not up to you, it's up to the judges."

These were judges who pretty much fell out of the sky as a couple of them in the pre-planned panel of five were unable to make it because of weather-related issues plaguing the state, said Michele Nilsen-Wasson, executive director of the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap Scholarship Organization. It was a bit tricky to find judges, because there are certain criteria that must be met, she said. She worked the phones right up until the dress rehearsal, which is when she secured the fifth judge. Other than that, the pageant went off without a hitch.

It was worth the effort, for Nilsen-Wasson, as this was a special year for the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap Scholarship Organization. This year, three of the first year's Little Sisters were contestants in the pageant: Taylor Wall, Myriah Riedel and Erika Scott all vied for the Miss Poulsbo title.

Amy Stadshaug, who passed on her Miss Poulsbo crown Saturday night, had a bit of advice for this year's royalty. The next year will go by fast, she said. "Enjoy it all."

Both Orando and Nicks earned $4,000 scholarships. The first runners-up each earned $1,000 scholarships, while the second runners-up earned $750 scholarships. The first runner-up for Miss Kitsap was Charisse Martinelli and the second runner-up was Rachelle Jensen.

The first runner-up for Miss Poulsbo was Myriah Riedel and the second runner-up was Erika Scott.

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