By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO Christina Richichi of Newburgh is the new Ms. Monticello Raceway.
The 21-year-old Richichi and 31 other lovely ladies competed for that title in the 2009 Ms. Monticello Raceway Beauty Pageant, which was held on Sunday afternoon in conjunction with The Mighty M’s scheduled card of harness races.
After the 32 contestants completed the swimsuit and evening gown competitions, the panel of six judges selected eight finalists. Those eight finalists were Richichi, Mary Francisco, Amanda Lubniewski, Brianna McKillip, Courtney Neal, Annette Ohman, Tiffany Parker and Rebecca Tango.
Pageant emcee Larry Roman, who also put up nearly $7,000 in prize money for the event, then asked each finalist to name her favorite U.S. President and explain why she admired him.
After all of the finalists answered, the final scores were tabulated and Richichi was named the winner. Ms. Monticello Raceway-2008 Courtney Blauvelt presented Richichi with her Ms. Monticello Raceway-2009 sash and a bouquet of flowers.
Richichi also received $3,500 for winning the pageant.
“Thank you very much, I am so honored,” Richichi said seconds after receiving her sash and flowers. “I want to do my best to continue the tradition Courtney [Blauvelt] has started.”
In one of her final acts as reining Ms. Monticello Raceway, Blauvelt praised the eight finalists.
“You are all gorgeous,” she said. “It takes a great deal of courage to get up here in front of everyone wearing a swimsuit and an evening gown. I wish all of you the best of luck in whatever you do.”
Monticello Raceway Director of Publicity John Manzi praised Blauvelt for “being one of the best” ladies to hold the title of Ms. Monticello Raceway.
“Whenever I called on her for a raceway event, she was here every time,” Manzi said. “And after working as a bartender last night until 2 o’clock this morning, Courtney and her friend got in the car in Fredonia and drove straight here so she could be a judge in today’s pageant.”
Neal, an 18-year-old resident of Mountaindale, was selected as the first runner-up and received $1,500.
Ohman, a 21-year-old Monticello resident, was chosen as the second runner-up and received $1,000.
Neal, who graduated from Fallsburg Central School last month, will be attending Penn State University this fall. She hopes to someday have a career in advertising or marketing.
Ohman is a college student who wants to earn a PhD in psychology and become a child psychologist.
Richichi, a 2006 graduate of Valley Central High School, is a student at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. She is majoring in Business Management and Administration, has a 3.83 gpa and will graduate in December. She is the President of her class and has been on the Dean’s List every semester she has attended Mount Saint Mary.
One of her passions is ballet. Twice she has played the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Orange County Ballet Theater’s production of the “Nutcracker.”
“I want to thank my family for all of their support,” Richichi said. “I’m very excited that I won.”
That family includes her parents, Michael and Cynthia Richichi, and her 20-year-old sister Marissa.
Last year, Christina Richichi was the second runner-up in the Ms. Monticello Raceway Pageant.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “It didn’t cost anything to enter and I thought I could win, so I decided to enter again this year.
“After competing last year, I knew what to expect this time,” Richichi continued. “I had more confidence being up on the stage.”
While Richichi was more comfortable, she was still happily surprised to be named the winner.
“When Larry Roman said, ‘I see that the winner’s father is here today,’ I thought, oh my God, he’s talking about me and then he called my name,” Richichi said.
The six judges for the pageant were: Courtney Blauvelt, who is Ms. Monticello Raceway2008 and a graduate student at SUNY Fredonia; Anthony Bruno, who is the Director of Finance for Monticello Casino & Raceway; Joe Logan, who is Superintendent of Grounds for the Ellenville Central School District; Rob Potter, who is Sports Editor of the Sullivan County Democrat; Barry Rothman, who is Vice President of a trucking company which supplies the fashion industry; and Marisol Velazquez, who is an Internal Auditor for Monticello Casino & Raceway.