Caroline Sapp, Miss America 1992
Recognition at Miss America – Aside from being the farthest State in the Union from Atlantic City and one of the smallest, Hawaiʿi has accomplished quite a substantial record at Miss America over the past 70 years. We have been fortunate enough to see two Miss Hawaii’s crowned Miss America, beginning with Carolyn Sapp in 1991 and of course the second Miss Hawaii, first Asian American to wear the crown of Miss America, Angela Perez Baraquio in 2000. Many more have placed high, including Jalee Fuselier 2nd Runner (2010), Kanoelani Gibson 1st Runner Up (2003), Susan Pickering 2nd Runner Up (1963), and Patricia Lei Anderson 4th Runner Up (1962). Many more have reached the upper tier of the top 15, they include: Raeceen Woolford (2009), Nicole Fox (2008), Pilialoha Gaison (2006), Erika Kaufman (1997), Melissa Ann Short (1996), Kanoe Aberegg (1993), Desiree Moana Cruz (1988), Debbie Nakanelua (1984), Sheryl Akaka (1969), Leina’ala Teruya (1964), Joan Whitney Vine (1961), Jere Wright (1956), Barbara Mamo Viera (1955), Beverly Rivera (1952) and Betty Jane Johnson (1949). Special to Hawaii’s heart is the significant accomplishment of receiving a total of 10
make up our organization. The Hawaii State Jaycees started the program in 1947 and continued to lead it until 1976. After many years of producing this event, longtime Miss Hawaii sponsor Hawaiian Airlines took over the pageant led by Hawaiian Air Marketing Exec, Lindsey Pollock. Hawaiian Airlines would serve as one of the most significant influences to have positively shape what we know as the Miss Hawaii legacy. During these years, the newly crowned Miss Hawaii would automatically be employed by Hawaiian Airlines. As part of the Hawaiian Airline Marketing Team, Miss Hawaii would travel the world promoting the airlines and Hawaii as a vacation destination across the U.S., Europe, Middle East, the Pacific Triangle and the globe. Here Miss Hawaii would gain a better understanding of how she represents not only the organization, but the entire State of Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines would manage the organization until approximately 1980. Leadership was then shared by Co-Executive Directors, Thom McGarvey and Marci Matich, jointly and individually until the mid-80’s when Thom McGarvey started a more than 35-year tenure as Executive Director. McGarvey, alongside longtime Miss Hawaii volunteers and Executive Committee members Muriel Anderson (Assoc. Director), Ray Abregano (Producer) and Dennis Momyer (Judges) would find the right formula of success and bring Miss Hawaii into
Sue Pickering, Miss Hawaii 1964
Changes through the Years – Since its inaugural year in 1948 by the Hawaii State Jaycees, Miss Hawaii would experience several changes that would only add to its character and legacy. You may remember during the early years of attending the pageant as part of the 50th State Fair, where attendees would take a ferry boat near Sand Island or when Miss Hawaii was at the old Honolulu Stadium, affectionately labeled the “Termite Palace”. In the years to follow, the pageant has held its event at McKinley High School, the Waikiki Shell, the Monarch Room at the Sheraton Waikiki and in recent years the Hawaii State Convention Center. In 1985, Miss Hawaii called the Hilton Hawaiian Village home and the Hilton through the support of Hawaii Hilton Exec Peter Schall would serve as Miss Hawaii’s home for the next 20 years. Today, the Miss Hawaiʿi pageant is produced at the Historic Hawaii Theatre in downtown Honolulu. The program has seen less activity with regards to its leadership, providing a stable platform for the over 300 volunteers who
Yun Tau Zane, Miss Hawaii 1948
Thom McGarvey & Crystal Lee, Miss Hawaii 2013
the 21st century. In 2008 a succession plan was initiated and McGarvey would select Ryan Keola Brown to assume the position of Executive Director, which he holds until today.
Click here for a complete list of Miss Hawaii's.
The Beginning – Hawaii entered Miss America in 1948. Yun Tau Zane, the new Miss Hawaiʿi and the first Asian American to compete at the Miss America competition would go onto share the “Aloha Spirit” and return home with the Miss Congeniality award. Yun Tau Zane became Miss Hawaiʿi after the original winner, Irmgard Waiwaiole resigned the title after realizing that she may not complete her studies in High school in time to compete at Miss America. Hawaiʿi would go onto win many more Congeniality awards, setting in motion that the “Aloha Spirit” and Hawaiʿi are truly a part of the fabric and legacy called, Miss America.
Milestones and Points of Interest – In 1992, the Miss Hawaii Organization helped to produce the Miss America Swimsuit Segment with a cast of over a dozen male and female Hula dancers as well as award winning musicians The Brothers Cazimero. This performance was one of the last instances that Live Musicians performed on the Miss America stage. In 2004, after having traveling hundreds of thousands of miles promoting the State of Hawaii, Miss Hawaii as indicated in a Joint Resolution of the Hawaii State Legislature was declared the “Official Honorary Hostess of the State of Hawaiʿi”, an honor she continues to hold until today. With almost 40% of the States yet to have their Miss crowned as Miss America, Hawaii crowned two Miss Americas and is considered as one of the top 15 most competitive States at nationals. Miss Hawaii in cooperation with State agencies travel across the globe to promote the State of Hawaii as a World Destination. Markets in which Miss Hawaii visits annually include Japan, Korea, China and Australia! In 2005 the Miss Hawaii’s Outstanding Teen contest was added as part of our Miss Hawaii Organization. Miss Hawaii is televised across the State and since 1983 is one of the few locally produced telecasts in Hawaii. The average Miss Hawaii volunteer has served 15+ years and over a dozen have over 25 years of service!
Miss Hawaii ‘Ohana – “Once a Miss Hawaiʿi...Always a Miss Hawaiʿi” ...The Miss Hawaii Organization, as part of a greater Hawaiian community within our island State, perpetuates unique values that are also found at Miss America...these values create and maintain a place for those who pass through our organization each and every year. Whether you are a Miss Hawaii or a volunteer, the core values that attract all continue to live and breathe through the hearts, minds and dedication of those who are committed to this program. Once a part of our ʿOhana, always a part of our ʿOhana (ʿOhana is Hawaiian for Family). Our women who have been a part of our program have gone on to be leaders in their own right. They are empowered women who have come to symbolize the beauty of our island Home. And as they continue their chapters in life, they take with them the values of Haʿahaʿa (humility), Lokahi (to come together, be alike, work together) and most of all, Aloha (love)...Aloha for our place, Aloha for our people and Aloha for each other. All of us share in these wonderful ideals and we are grateful to Miss America for allowing our State to be a part of the Miss America ʿOhana.
Photo Credits: Yun Tau Zane, Courtesy of the Family of Yun Tau Zane. Lindsey Pollock, Courtesy of the Honolulu Advertiser.
Miss Congeniality awards, in addition to the countless preliminary talent, swimsuit, Quality of Life, preliminary finalist awards and more. It is noteworthy to also acknowledge the unique accomplishment of Miss Hawaii, Lauren Cheape, in 2011 as a Miracle Maker Award recipient for raising over $50,000 for Children’s Miracle Network.
Barbara Vierra, Miss Hawaii 1956