Leila Sabet, 24, of Ponte Vedra Beach was crowned Miss Florida Citrus June 13 in the very first virtual Miss America preliminary pageant in Florida.
Due to COVID-19, “the country closed down just two weeks prior to when this year’s pageant was scheduled to take place” so it was delayed and rescheduled as a virtual event, said Miss Florida Citrus Pageant Executive Director Brenda Eubanks Burnette.
“With the help of Todd Dantzler and Jonathan Barreras of SVN Saunders, Ralston, Dantzler Real Estate in Lakeland, a plan was mapped out to use their boardroom and Zoom conference capability to create a virtual judging center that each candidate could sign into for their various stages of competition,” explained Burnette.
Pageant candidates had several stages of competition — personal interview, on-stage question, talent and red carpet/social impact statement. Burnette said the 17 contestants were the most in the six years she’s been running the event.
Sabet is a manager in operations for Amazon Fulfillment in Tampa. She graduated cum laude from Florida State University in 2019 with a bachelor of science in psychology and a certificate in advanced leadership studies. She plans to pursue an MBA degree.
During the combined Miss Florida Citrus/Miss Winter Haven pageant, Cassidy Goldman of Jacksonville was selected as the new Miss Winter Haven. She is a 20-year-old senior at the University of North Florida, where she is pursuing a bachelor of science in multimedia journalism.
Sabet and Goldman will both compete in the Miss Florida pageant, which will take place in Lakeland in June 2021. The winner of the Miss Florida pageant will compete in the Miss America pageant.
First, second and third runners-up in the pageant were Sarah Sarver, Bethany Worley and Gracie Dyer, respectively. The two winners and three runners-up won a total of more than $3,000 in cash and prizes.
The Miss Florida Citrus pageant has its root in the Florida Citrus Queen pageant, first held in 1924. Burnette said she and some other past pageant winners agree that the year following their pageant wins “was one of the best years of our lives and one that impacted our future for years to come.”
Visit www.MissFloridaCitrus.net to see all of the candidates and the video from the pageant.
For more information or to schedule a Miss Florida Citrus appearance, contact Burnette at 561-351-4314 or MFCitrus81@gmail.com.
Source: Brenda Eubanks Burnette
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