The tradition of Miss Mary Hardin-Baylor Pageant has reigned in the lives of Crusader’s for more than 50 years. About 1,150 contestants and more than 7,000 people have been involved with the production since its beginning.
Although Pageant is focused on the 23 contestants, an army of students behind the scenes supports and works together to ensure that the spotlight is always on the women.
These students volunteered more than 15 hours a week and in the weeks leading up to the Pageant. It became like a part-time job for some.
This year’s director, junior speech education major Corbin Simmons, knew that it would take a team of people to see out her vision of the theme, Beautiful.
She wanted to change Pageant to make it more personal and not so broad like a production. One way the idea was achieved was through the use of videos that introduced the contestants before their talent.
“The videos are my favorite thing because I wanted to give the girls an outlet to express their platforms and why they are so passionate about it to the audience,” she said. “Platform speeches are weighted the most in who wins, but nobody ever knows that.”
More than 120 hours went into making the videos and between 200 and 300 hours were spent creating the stage.
Simmons said, “Something I think a lot of people don’t understand is the time put into Pageant — the committee heads, the committees, the time and the passion that it takes to bring it all together,” she said. “It’s not just the four directors and Mike (McCarthy) and Jeff (Sutton). It’s an army.”
There were 21 committee heads with about five people working on each committee. Add in the escorts and students who just show up to help along the way, and it adds up to about 150 students.
Director of Campus Activities and Pageant adviser McCarthy is always impressed by what students can do when given the resources.
“Students truly come together to put on a first-rate production. To handle and solve any problem that pops up along the way and execute it as well as they do in six weeks is amazing,” he said.
Because so many people are involved with the pageant who do not run in the same social circles, it gives students an opportunity to meet and form new friendships.
“Pageant brings people and puts them working together with one another over a short time period, which inevitably leads to the development of relationships that cross any natural boundary,” McCarthy said.
However, friendships are not the only type of relationship that are formed thanks to Pageant. Ten couples have met, began dating and eventually became married due to the time spent working on the production. In fact, McCarthy met his wife when she asked him to work backstage at the event.
Although most of the students have never met each other let alone run lights or sound before Pageant, Assistant Director of Campus Activities and Pageant adviser, Jeff Sutton said, “Tech team did an amazing job. (There) were no problems, and the night went off without a hitch. I am so proud of all their hard work. We could not have done it without them.”