A 23-year-old State Department of Education employee from Baltimore was crowned as Miss Maryland USA last night in competition at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel and Conference Center.
The winner, Marina Harrison, 23, won't have to travel even that far in representing Maryland at the Miss USA pageant in April: The site is Baltimore's Hippodrome Theatre, a few blocks from her apartment.
"I will be competing in my own back yard," a jubilant Harrison said last night in a telephone interview, minutes after besting 88 other women for the crown. "Not only will I be the hometown girl, I'll be the neighborhood girl."
The Miss USA pageant will be televised live on NBC. The date in April has not been announced.
Harrison, a graduate of Meade High School in Anne Arundel County and the University of Maryland, College Park, is a spokeswoman for the State Department of Education's Pride program, which publicizes good news about schools, students and teachers.
Pageant contestants took to the stage in swimsuits and evening gowns and were also interviewed by judges.
When asked what it felt like to win, Harrison said, "Amazing!"
Harrison said she didn't cry like some beauty queens, but in her excitement she almost forgot to take the customary winner's stroll across the stage. "The judges had to remind me to take the walk," she said.