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Long Island's Queen Of Queens Bids Farewell

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SOURCE Miss Long Island Pageant

HOLBROOK, N.Y., June 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The founder and executive director of the Miss Long Island® pageant will officially pass her reigns to the co-directors of Ultimate Crown Productions, Inc. in front of a live audience at the annual Long Island Pageant competition being held this summer on August 10th at the Patchogue Theatre.

Lori Thomas is the Founder & Executive Director of the Miss Long Island and Miss Long Island Teen Pageants.

Lori Thomas of Smithtown, a home grown beauty queen herself, founded the Miss Long Island Pageant 8 years ago to create a forum to bring together some of Long Island's most beautiful and influential young leaders dedicated to a myriad of community endeavors.  Since then, she has crowned 14 Long Island queens.  Each year under her direction, a Long Island queen has either placed in the Top 20 or higher in Donald Trump's New York USA State finals competition, or outright won the New York crown including back-to-back wins for two of her Long Island Teens in 2012 and 2013. 

"This truly has been an incredible journey," says Thomas.  "I am humbled when I reflect on all the major accomplishments and the impact that not only the Long Island pageant queens have had on our community, but also every single young woman who has participated in our system over the years.  They have dedicated themselves to making Long Island a better place for all of us, and I couldn't be more proud of their service."

When Thomas started the Long Island Pageant, her main focus was to recruit civic minded, intelligent, and passionate young girls between the ages of 14-26 years old who would come together as a group to bring forth positive change to this area.  Her delegates and queens have dedicated countless hours raising awareness and funds for causes like homelessness, bullying, self-esteem, all types of cancer, environmental issues, education, addiction, disaster relief, and more.  If there is a major event in need of support on Long Island, you can bet that Thomas' queens are probably involved.

The Long Island Pageant receives hundreds of applications every year from aspiring entrants, of which, Thomas has personally hand-selected anywhere from 20-40 young women to compete for the title each year.  A personal interview is required for acceptance so Thomas can determine if the candidate is poised, articulate, intelligent, and can sincerely convey her passion and dedication to the community.  If that interview goes well, the delegate gets a chance to compete for the coveted crown.

Thomas' decision to select new directors to take over after this summer's pageant was not made hastily.  Her goal is for the Long Island pageant to double in size over the next 24-months, with approximately 40 young women selected to compete in each of the 2 divisions, TEEN (ages 14-18) and MISS (ages 18-26).  In order to do that, she sought out a pair of former Long Island queens that she personally coached and mentored as they came up through her system, and have embraced the mission, philosophy, and established standards of her pageant.  Jessica Ricco of Westbury, former Miss Long Island 2013, and Sabrina Mastrangelo of North Bellmore, former Miss Long Island Teen 2012 who went on to win the Miss New York Teen USA 2012 title, are partners in Ultimate Crown Productions, Inc., and they are eager to continue the legacy that Thomas created.

"This is an opportunity that I am truly honored to have," said Ricco. "For me, it's the continuation of a dream that began almost 7 years ago when I met Lori Thomas.  As former Long Island Pageant titleholders, my partner and I are in the perfect position to keep growing this system into something Lori and all of Long Island will continue to be proud of."

Thomas is the founder and president of Dazzle D Productions, Inc. which owns the federal trademark and rights to the Miss Long Island name.  Via a licensing agreement with Ultimate Crown Productions, Ricco and Mastrangelo will immediately begin recruiting next year's candidates, and prepare to produce the live pageant competition next summer.  Both agree that they have some pretty big heels to fill following in Thomas' footsteps.

"This is an incredible opportunity given to me by Lori Thomas, and it's due to her coaching and mentoring that I was able to step through the pageant ranks quickly grabbing two titles within six months," says Mastrangelo.  "Lori always saw potential in me and continues to make me recognize that the possibilities for my future are endless.  Jessica and I are both committed and excited to keep the Long Island Pageant legacy alive!"

Although Thomas will emcee her last Long Island Pageant on August 10th, just before the new queens are announced live on stage she will be taking her own traditional "farewell walk" that pageantry has made famous around the globe.  She will then exit the stage, allowing Ricco and Mastrangelo the honor of unveiling Long Island's newest royalty who will advance to the state competition in January under their direction.

"It will be quite an emotional moment I'm sure," Thomas said.  "Yet I know with all my heart that Jessica and Sabrina will build upon the 8 year history of this pageant and continue to make a significant impact with the new queens all throughout Long Island.  I actually can't wait to see what happens next!"

Thomas will continue to lead the Long Island Pageant after this summer's event, but she will naturally do so on a different level now.  Being that she will remain the official owner with licensing rights provided to Ultimate Crown Productions, she will oversee the brand image, quality standards, coaching and mentorship of the new queens, and the overall growth of the system.  "I did coach both Jessica and Sabrina when they were my queens, and now I am excited to teach them everything I know on this side of actually running a pageant business," she said.  "Then of course, they will bring their combined creativity and new ideas to the table so I'm sure we are all in for some dazzling developments as the year progresses!"

Miss Long Island 2009, Wendy Jean-Bart, Smithtown
Miss Long Island Teen 2009, Samantha Forde, St. James
Miss Long Island 2010, Jamie Bellittierri, West Hampton
Miss Long Island Teen 2010, Leanne Pinard, Commack        
Miss Long Island 2011, Marina Montes, East Setauket                    
Miss Long Island Teen 2011, Kimberly Taff, Malverne
Miss Long Island 2012, Jessica Pinkney, Manhasset             
Miss Long Island Teen 2012, Sabrina Mastrangelo, North Bellmore
Miss Long Island Teen 2012, Catherine Manett**, Patchogue
Miss Long Island 2013, Jessica Ricco, Westbury                   
Miss Long Island Teen 2013, Nikki Orlando, Nesconset
Miss Long Island Teen 2013, Lauren Doherty**, Northport
Miss Long Island 2014, Michelle Medoff, Great Neck           
Miss Long Island Teen 2014, Sabrina Franza, Oceanside

For tickets to this year's Long Island Pageant taking place on August 10th, visit www.PatchogueTheatre.com.  For more information about Thomas and the history of the Long Island pageant, its delegates and queens, visit www.LIPageants.com.

*Towns listed for each Queen represent their residential status at the time of crowning.
**Assumed Long Island title when the original Long Island winner advanced and won the New York USA title.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140605/95004 

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