Peninsula beauties line up for pageant 

In recent months, Danna Ngo has changed her diet, hired a vocal trainer, started working out and tried on a plethora of gowns and swimsuits — all for the opportunity to represent the city as the next Miss Redwood City.

Ngo, like dozens of other young women on the Peninsula, will compete Sunday for the title held by Bridget Chen. Over the course of the weekend, they will compete to impress judges from the Miss California and Miss America pageants with their interview skills, knowledge of current events, personal talents, physical fitness and beauty.

The pageant — as well as the major pageants offering women the opportunity to represent the state or the nation — is the largest providers of scholarship money for women, according to G. H. Armour, who has directed the Miss Redwood City competition for the last 10 years.

"For me, it’s a quality of life issue," said Armour, who got involved partly to help her five daughters compete for scholarships. "If we make these girls feel very respected and valued, when they graduate they won’t go to New York or Los Angeles — they will stay here and become leaders in our community."

Although the winner represents Redwood City, contestants can be from anywhere in San Mateo or Santa Clara counties, as long as they don’t live in Santa Clara or attend its schools.

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For Chen, who grew up in Modesto and now attends San Jose State University, winning the crown was a little like adopting a city.

"It’s a cute city — people will see each other on the street and say hello. It’s really a community feeling," Chen said.

During her reign, Chen attended a number of public events and ribbon cuttings, and even pitched in on a community litter cleanup day.

While competitions like Miss Redwood City have broadened their criteria in recent decades, the contestants all acknowledge the contest for how it began: as a beauty pageant.

Contestant Nicole Fox, who never wore makeup before competing for the crown, said the evening gown competition requires courage.

"If you can goon stage and have the confidence to do that, you have the confidence to do just about anything you want," Fox said.

That part of the contest is less about the gown and more about the woman inside, according to Armour. "The gown can’t do anything for you that isn’t already there. To win, you’d better be able to be on stage in a gunny sack and have that kind of presence," Armour said.

The Miss Redwood City competition

When: Sunday, 2 p.m.
Where: Sequoia High School, 1201 Brewster Ave., Redwood City.

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