Maricruz Garza of Sunnyside took her 12-year-old daughter Brianna to Seaside, Ore. this summer to turn in her crown as International Miss in the Regal Majesty Pageant (RMP) program, age division 10-12.
What Garza and her daughter didn’t know was that additional honors awaited Brianna on the Oregon beach. It’s still a whirl, as Maricruz recalls it today.
“She had finished making her farewell speech and was crying,” Garza said.
Before she could move, Brianna and her mother were called to center stage. They were presented the award for Regal Majesty family of the year. Now mom and daughter were crying as they started to exit.
“Wait, don’t leave yet,” Monica Berginic, master of ceremonies and owner of Regal Majesty said. “We have one more thing for Brianna.”
Brianna went back to center stage and received an honor Berginic said will rarely be awarded. She was named Regal Majesty Queen for Life.
“She cried and cried,” Garza said.
Brianna cried so much that it was difficult for her to find a photograph of a tear-less moment.
Garza wasn’t sure why Brianna and her family were so honored. It may be that RMP and Brianna grew up together. Both started in 2012.
Garza said she was looking for a way to give Brianna experiences that could develop her known talents and perhaps reveal hidden talents. She wanted Brianna to have the opportunities that lead to a glamour career, if she were to want one later.
Brianna was 6 when Garza took her to an event in Tri-Cities that was seeking young talent that could be developed for organizations like Disney Channel. Brianna was called, Garza said, but the family couldn’t afford the cost of the training program.
Mother and daughter went online, looking for something they could afford. They eventually learned that RMP, based in Marysville, was scheduled for Sunnyside Sunshine Days. Garza read about RMP and liked what she read.
“Regal Majesty began from a vision of wanting a pageant like no other; a vision that came from a pageant mom's perspective,” Berginic wrote. “I wanted a pageant that would celebrate a girl’s own personality and not make her feel like she had to conform to a standard cookie cutter shape. I wanted to make a system that has a family feel and a connection to the community by giving all girls the chance to be a part of something.”
Regal Majesty is a natural pageant. Other than enhancing their beauty with light make up and normal personal care, the girls compete in their natural state, except for the clothing. The are always fully clothed.
“She didn’t win the first time, but she really liked it,” Garza said. “It was her first pageant, and she didn’t know what to do.”
Once Brianna started winning, she continued to win. As she has grown since then, the RMP has grown. One of the preliminary pageants in Washington is the Cinco de Mayo in Sunnyside.
There are several state pageants and a national pageant. Brianna has won both. This year, the national pageant was named International because Australia had entries.
Over six years, Brianna has amassed more than 50 crowns, “tons of sashes,” trophies, medals and bears, according to Garza.
“I need to open a museum,” she said.
That’s only a joke. Garza is no more a fanatic than a football dad or volleyball mom. She said she’s never pushed her daughter to a pageant. Brianna’s goal is no loftier than Miss Sunnyside.
“I don’t remind her, she reminds me of the pageants,” Garza said. “She likes to connect with other girls, I think, because she doesn’t have any sisters.”
“It’s just like sports,” Garza said. “These pageants teach the same things sports teach (fair play, sportsmanship, citizenship). You’re always nervous because you don’t know who’s going to win. She puts in more than 100 community service hours a year”
So far, Brianna doesn’t have a glamour career in mind. She hopes to become a computer engineer. A 4.0 GPA student, Garza she’s on the right path.
“She wants to make the school wall of fame,” Garza said.
It’s been almost only mother and daughter on this journey. Dad is always busy working. But he went to this year’s national in Las Vegas. He became just as nervous as mom and the other parents.
“He asked me, ‘How to you handle the stress?’” Garza said. “He was first to run to her after she won. I held back and let him enjoy the moment. I’d been there many times.”
Brianna has taken a new path, turning out for volleyball. She tried basketball and broke an ankle. So, mom’s a little nervous.
“But we support her in whatever she wants to do,” Garza said.
That formula has worked so far.