Two veterans, newcomer take first preliminaries

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 5, 2002

Miss Houston North Central Misty Rea, left, and Miss University Jessica Hill, center, tied in the talent preliminary. Miss West Central Mississippi Jennifer Adcock won the swimsuit preliminary.(The Vicksburg Post/Melanie Duncan)

[07/04/02]Two pageant veterans and a newcomer took talent and swimwear preliminaries in Wednesday’s opening night of the 2002 Miss Mississippi pageant.

Miss Houston North Central Misty Rea, 23, of Houston, and Miss University Jessica Hill, 20, of Grenada, tied in the talent preliminary, both with vocal presentations. They will each receive $400 cash scholarships.

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Rea was a Top Ten finalist last year when she competed as Miss University. This is Hill’s first year to compete in the pageant.

Rea sang “Rainbow High” from “Evita” and wore a single-strapped Latin dress.

“I practiced a lot and worked on getting a song that complemented my personality,” she said.

Hill sang “The Jewel Song” from the opera “Faust” and wore a black-velvet ball gown. She, too, has been practicing many hours.

“My voice teacher and I have been rehearsing,” she said. “I’ve been singing all my life, but I just started singing opera.”

Miss West Central Jennifer Adcock, 21, of Hattiesburg, won the swimsuit preliminary and will take home $200 in cash scholarship. This is the third consecutive year Adcock has won a swimsuit preliminary.

Adcock wore a two-piece black and white swimsuit and has been exercising to keep her body in shape.

“I try to work out all year,” she said. “I try to stay healthy and active.”

Reminders of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks filled the Vicksburg Convention Center during the opening ceremony. The pageant’s theme, A New Day Has Come, paid tribute to the September attacks through singing, dancing and scenery. Eight community law enforcement officers and firefighters were included as extras during performances.

Police officer Marcus Lovette was one of the participating officers.

“I guess a lot of people don’t see all the hard work we do,” Lovette said. “We had to be here anyway (for security purposes).”

Executive director David Blackledge said that community businesses will benefit from the increased number of visitors.

“This is a tremendous boom to our community,” he said.

Miss Vicksburg Marla Beth Brooks will compete in swimwear in tonight’s preliminary. Jackson’s WLBT television station will air Saturday night’s final competition when reigning Miss Mississippi Becky Pruett will crown her successor.