three ladies from the Alle-Kiski-Tal to Little Miss Italy within the respective age teams
Three girls from the Alle-Kiski Valley with no previous festival experience recently won the Little Miss Italy competition in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood.
Hadassah Cardaro, 10, of New Kensington; Mariah Kaiser, 13, of Lower Burrell; and Rosalie Casper, 5, from Allegheny Township were crowned Little Miss Italy in their respective age groups during the annual Little Italy Days pageant on August 22nd.
The pageant returned this summer after the 2020 festival was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“I’m not even Italian,” said Kaiser, 13. “This was my first competition since Covid closed everything for me as a competitive baton turner.”
Kaiser, an eighth grader from Huston Middle School, said she did her own makeup but hired a friend to work as a hairdresser. For her first pageant, she put on a costume that was already hanging in her closet.
Shannon Ofchinick, Emperor’s mother, said the pageant was a positive experience for her daughter.
“We were super proud. She spoke so beautifully and I think she takes self-confidence for granted, ”Ofchinick said.
Kaiser said she posted a tiara-themed photo on her Snapchat after being crowned Little Miss Italy in the 13-17 year olds category.
Little Italy Days is the region’s largest annual festival celebrating everything Italian.
But West Deer’s contest director Marianne Rieg said contestants don’t have to be Italian to compete. She prides itself on offering a pageant that is accessible to every girl – not just the typically trained participant.
“This is for every young person who wants to show their self-confidence and would like to see their relatives in a public event without strict criteria,” says Rieg, who owns the Twirl Time Studio in Tarentum.
Rieg was a top 10 finalist for the 1992 Miss Pennsylvania Miss America Pageant.
But said she created Little Miss Italy differently than most festivals.
“The spirit of the pageant is to celebrate our children, our families and our communities,” said Rieg.
In its seventh year, the pageant is one of the main attractions of the festival.
“It brings in more than 50 participants and hundreds of spectators,” said Rieg. “The main goal is to encourage diners to enjoy the entertainment, food and pastries while supporting the vendors and small businesses in Bloomfield.”
Participants can wear the outfit of their choice and answer questions on stage during the competition.
The winners were selected by four non-professional judges. Admission is $ 25.
Cardaro, who was crowned winner in the 10-12 age group, said she was usually shy. She said her pageant performance made her “nervous, but super exciting” at the same time.
Cardaro is a fifth grader from the Mary Queen of Apostles Catholic School. She bought a formal dress online from Amazon and customized it.
“It had bespoke Italian bows in the Italian colors on the back,” Cardaro said. “I wore my tiara after winning a fair and people congratulated me.”
Hadassah’s mother, Lori Cardaro, said she wore waterproof mascara “just in case” while watching her daughter on stage.
“I’ve asked her for the past four years if she would like to compete and she said no. This year she came to me and asked. I thought it would be good for her and a confidence builder. It was a happy mother moment, ”said Cardaro.
The Trib had previously reported on Rosalie Casper’s victory. Casper is the youngest resident of the winning trio in the Alle Kiski Valley.
Casper won in the 4-6 year age group and is a kindergarten child at Kiski North Primary School.
All participants received a trophy for their participation and the winning winners received an additional trophy, flowers, sash and tiara to keep.
The girls will represent Little Miss Italy by participating in various upcoming events and parades in their respective communities.
After Hadassah Cardaro was crowned, she wore her tiara to dinner at the Olive Garden.
She said her pageant experience helped her in another area of interest.
“A small goal of mine is to try acting. The challenging part of the pageant was the speaking part. I’ve practiced a lot, ”said Hadassah.
Giovanna Barone of Baldwin was named Little Miss Italy in the 7- to 9-year-old age group.
For Rieg, the pageant continues to draw attention to community pride.
“Many pageant organizations today are financially concerned with the parents and give such grandiose titles that the community festivals are often forgotten,” said Rieg.
Rieg ends every pageant with the words: “This is amore. Now please buy cannoli! “