Organizers of the Miss Redwood City-San Mateo County Competition are ending their connection with the Miss America organization, and for the first time in 60-plus years there may be no handoff to the next local titleholder.
The committee’s decision to let their franchise with the Miss California organization expire Sept. 1 comes amid controversy at the national level over the new direction of the Miss America pageant. The decision also comes a little over three months from November, when the local pageant would have taken place. Unless a replacement committee gets the nod to continue, the 2018 titleholder, Brooke Muschott, could be the last Miss Redwood City/San Mateo County.
“It’s up for grabs,” said Allison Wood, executive director of the Redwood City committee, noting that if the Miss California organization wishes to sign another group, the show could still go on.
The local competition is a preliminary to Miss California and Miss America, which has been roiled by controversy since a new team led by chairwoman Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America, and CEO Regina Hopper assumed command months ago. In an abrupt departure, both the evening gown and swimsuit elements were jettisoned, the latter to be replaced with an interactive conversational session with the judges.
Two weeks ago, Cara Mund, the 2018 Miss America, wrote a letter to former titleholders complaining about being controlled, silenced, bullied and manipulated, charges the Miss America Organization has disputed.
Wood said decisions have been made without buy-in at the local level, and the ripple effect of the upheaval has been confusion and uncertainty. Information hasn’t been forthcoming about the replacement elements in the competition so the judges and contestants can understand the scoring requirements.
“I don’t know how we would have been able to put this together without knowing what these girls would be scored on,” Wood said. “There was a complete lack of information available.” Adding to the logistical difficulties, some contestants who will be going to Miss America will be competing under the old rules and some under the new rules.
Wood said she came to the conclusion that she couldn’t in good conscience recruit a girl – “someone’s daughter or sister” – and potentially subject her to the treatment that the current Miss America complained about.
Wood and Sparkle Willliams Capps, another member of the local committee, said it’s possible that a “Miss Redwood City” without the state or national affiliation could be redefined to function as a community ambassador. Some pageants focus on preparing a contestant to make it all the way from Miss California to Miss America; Redwood City’s is among those that focus more on helping the titleholder develop as a person, as well as be active in the community, Williams Capps said.
During her term, Muschott has volunteered her time at countless charitable and other public events, including the Picnic en Blanc fundraiser on Saturday night. “Miss Redwood City doesn’t have to stop,” Wood said. “It just wouldn’t be affiliated with Miss America.”
Likewise, the “Mr. Redwood City” parody pageant – a fundraiser for the Miss Redwood City event – could continue, as a way to raise funds for other programs, Wood said.
Photo: Jim Kirkland