PETAL, MS (WDAM) - There's a newly crowned hunk in heels in Petal. Supporters gathered at the Petal Civic Center for the Petal Police Department's annual 'Hunks in Heels A Womanless Beauty Pageant' on Saturday.
"Our 'Hunks in Heels' is our largest fundraiser for the Shop with a Cop program," said Miranda Williams, program coordinator. "Shop with a Cop was started in 2003 when we had a family who was a victim of a burglary. They couldn't afford their Christmas presents and all of their Christmas presents (were) stolen. So, our current chief at the time put in his own money and we took children shopping for Christmas."
The one-of-a-kind pageant was created through the Shop with a Cop program. In 2003, they provided Christmas gifts for two families. And what started out with two children has grown to many more families in the Petal community. Shop with a Cop is a 501©(3) tax deductible charity.
"The program has grown leaps and bounds…," Williams said. "We are now at 46 families and that's families not children, because we won't take one child without taking the rest of them. It's just not fair. So, we're at 46 families and it went over to 60 kids."
Justin Yawn, Nick Hopkins, Phillip Humphrey, LeBryon Jackson, Roman Baggett, Kelly Sones, Aaron Jernigan, Michael Crawford, David Courtney, LaDean Byrd and Charlie Sims strutted down the aisle and on stage captivating the audience in their finest wear. Fans cheered for their favorite contestant and captured moments including one hunk falling on stage and being helped up by police officers on their smartphones.
"We have a couple of civilians that are also in it, who have just seen the program and they're like this is my chance to give back to the event," said Williams adding that most of the participants were members of the police department.
Each contestant competed in the areas of introduction and formal wear, interview and talent competition. But, unlike traditional pageants, the men left swimwear out. Macy Mitchell, Miss University of Southern Mississippi; T&D Towing owner, Kim Pipkins; iHeartRadio DJ, Sherri Marengo and last year's "Hunk in Heels", Matt Shepherd, judged the competition.
After two and a half hours of laughs and entertainment, Aaron Jernigan walked away with this year's crown.
The department was able to raise $3, 228.00 during the event.
"This program is very important to me," she said. "But, to see that it is important to other people makes me want to do it that much more, because people see what we're doing, they know what we're doing (and) it makes it that much better."
Williams hopes with the community's assistance, the Shop with a Cop program will carry on.
"It's gotten extremely huge and we really want to continue the program, because it's great," Williams said. "The community loves it. We love it at the police department and it's our way to bridge the gap between the police department and the community."