Courtney Swan crowned 2011 Miss Hibiscus

VERO BEACH — Vero Beach High School Senior Courtney Swan walked away with the coveted title of 2011 Miss Hibiscus on Friday night at the Heritage Center. 

The field of 15 girls, ranging in ages from 16 to 18 years of age, competed for the crown with grace and poise at the Miss Hibiscus Pageant, the kickoff to Saturday’s Hibiscus Festival.  

When asked what they were looking for in the winner, the judges, Leslie Darby, 2008 Miss Hibiscus Jean Jeifhelm, Lisa Rymer, Larry Strauss and Justin Tabas, agreed they sought a girl with intelligence, personality and poise, who could make a difference in the community.  The girls had all met with the judges earlier in the week for the preliminary judging, which accounted for a portion of their scores.

“They’re just wonderful girls,” said Elizabeth Graves Bass, committee chair and the first Miss Hibiscus.  “It’s one of the best groups we’ve ever had.  There is good cohesion; they’re friendly with us and with each other.   We tell them to have fun, and I think they are.”

Girls were introduced to the crowd of family, friends and well-wishers, and each were asked by Master of Ceremonies Flynn Fidgeon to tell about school or community projects they’ve been involved with, and what they would bring to the position of Miss Hibiscus in the upcoming year.  After coming back to the stage for a final, random drawing of questions, there was a brief intermission while the votes were tallied.

“This past year was absolutely amazing,” said 2010 Miss Hibiscus Liz Diaz during the intermission.  “To be honest with you, it’s just now sinking in.  It’s definitely something I won’t ever forget.”

The award for Most Photogenic was given to 16-year-old Meagan Carrick, a student at Saint Edward’s School.  Gea Anderson, 16-years-old and a student at Sebastian River High School, was presented the award for Miss Congeniality.

Lilly Balch, 18-years-old and a student at Saint Edward’s School, was named the First Runner Up, and Second Runner Up was awarded to Tara Giavannone, 16-years-old and a student at Vero Beach High School.

And finally, Courtney Swan, a 17-year-old senior at Vero Beach High School who plans to attend the University of Virginia in the fall, was crowned 2011 Miss Hibiscus.  Her first duties will be to preside over the Hibiscus Festival on Saturday.

“It feels awesome,” said Swan.  “I’m honestly so surprised.” {igallery 375}

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