Ms. Mississippi Senior America 2016: Seniors shine and dazzle in this year’s pageant

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Saturday, Trina Schelton, left, of Picayune was crowned 2016’s Ms. Mississippi Senior America.  Photo by Cassandra Favre

Saturday, Trina Schelton, left, of Picayune was crowned 2016’s Ms. Mississippi Senior America.
Photo by Cassandra Favre

“Let’s talk about shiny stones. It’s bling that we all love. They make our ladies snazzy. And sparkle like stars above!” – From “Rhinestones, Roses and Rock n’ Roll,” an original poem by Gladys Hughes.

Saturday, Trina McClendon Schelton of Picayune was crowned 2016’s Ms. Mississippi Senior America. She will compete for the national title during the week of October 16-20 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“The pageant went very well,” Ms. Mississippi Senior America Director Bonnie Hughes said. “I was pleased. I knew it would be a stiff competition. All the ladies did great. I could feel the audience’s excitement as each lady performed.”
This year’s contestants included Dr. Ivy Anderson of Olive Branch; Diane Danzey of Hattiesburg and Donna Perkins of Picayune.
Schelton joins a long list of former Ms. Mississippi Senior America winners, beginning with the crowning of Gladys Hughes of Carriere in 2003. Subsequent winners include Wootsie Tate of Picayune; Geraldine Roberts of Raleigh; Suzanne Shelly of Hattiesburg; Jessica Lacour of Carriere; Barbara Travis of Flowood; Barbara Hill of Summit; Bonnie Hughes of Carriere; Paula Lee of Jackson; Betty Aiden of Greenwood; Debbie Craig of Carriere and Dr. Barbara Mauldin of Petal.
Last year, Mauldin was crowned Ms. Senior America at the national pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Many of the former winners attended Saturday’s pageant and performed for the crowd and pageant judges.
Hughes said that this year’s judges were “fabulous.”
“We had five different judges from all different areas so everyone would have a fair shot,” Hughes said.
The judges panel included two dancers, a thespian, a pageant person and an entertainer. They were Shane Carroll, Barbara Fontenot, Trudy Morris, Sandy Ratajik and Vince Vance.
Contestants competed in talent, evening gown and philosophy of life competitions.
In addition to winning the top honor, Schelton was also awarded the talent award, which she described as an “honor and dream come true.”
Several years ago, Schelton directed pageants such as Miss Pearl River County and Junior Miss. However, she was never a competitor.
“My daughters were in pageants and I always wondered what it would feel like to enter one myself,” she said.
For the past seven years, Schelton provided care for her husband, entertainer Troy Shondell. Shondell had Alzheimer’s. When he passed away six months ago, Schelton said she felt as though “half of me died.”
Thanks to some encouragement from her daughters, Schelton became involved with the community again and joined a local gym where she met Sandy Lemoine who encouraged her to join Picayune On Stage.
“It brought me out of my shell again,” she said. “I started to become myself again.”
Last year, Schelton said Lemoine competed in the 2015 pageant and encouraged her to enter.
“I also met Bonnie and Gladys Hughes who wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Schelton said. “They approached my daughters and gave them an application. It’s been such a fun experience and gave me something to look forward to.”
During the talent portion of the competition, Schelton sang “Where the Boys Are,” a song made popular by Connie Francis in the 1950s. It was also her husband’s favorite song for Schelton to perform, she said. The pair used to perform the song together. During her performance, Schelton wore a vintage style dress worn by her granddaughter, Kayla Purvis, in a stage production of “Grease” at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans.
For the evening gown and interview portion of the pageant, Schelton wore a gown and suit her other granddaughter, Karlyn Purvis, wore during high school.
“Everything I wore meant something to me,” she said.
Schelton said she is honored and proud to have this opportunity to represent Mississippi.
“This pageant brings out the positive in your aging,” Schelton said. “By staying physically active, giving back to your community and using the talents God has given you, you’re going to stay young at heart. I’ve got my work cut out for me and I’m going to work hard to be the best representative I could possibly be.”
She also plans to promote the pageant on local level so all of the “beautiful ladies in Pearl River County are aware of this event.”
After she was crowned, Vince Vance serenaded her with his rendition of “You’re Such a Beautiful Girl.”
“When he sang that song, it was like I could see my husband smiling down on me and being proud of me,” Schelton said. “I feel younger right now than I did seven years ago. That liveliness is coming back to me.”

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