Sweet Win

Central Florida Ag News|July 2020

Sweet Win
Leila Sabet Crowned Miss Florida Citrus After Virtual Pageant
MARY TOOTHMAN

WHEN LEILA SABET of Ponte Vedra Beach was crowned Miss Florida Citrus on June 13, you could have heard a pin drop. There was no large audience on hand to applaud or hoot and holler. The spectators for this pageant, you see, were virtual.

Judges sat at a large conference table in another location and viewed contestants on a computer screen. As for Miss Florida Citrus 2020? She was in her garage.

Miss Florida Citrus Pageant Executive Director Brenda Eubanks Burnette says it was quite a unique experience.

“Due to COVID-19, the country closed down just two weeks prior to when this year’s pageant was scheduled to take place. And so it was delayed and rescheduled as a virtual event.”

It remained a very different experience as organizers worked to set up the pageant in the midst of COVID-19 with all the required social distancing measures.

Candidates signed into a Zoom virtual conference from the boardroom of SVN Saunders, Ralston, Dantzler Real Estate in Lakeland. Candidates signed in throughout the day to compete in various stages of competition, which included their personal interview on-stage question, talent and red carpet — social impact statement.

The virtual pageant involved numerous online practices for the candidates to accustom them to interviewing and performing individually in front of their laptops or cellphones.

Sabet, 24, who graduated cum laude from Florida State University in 2019, says competing on a screen instead of a stage was quite different.

“It was so quiet! To win a pageant without an audience — in my garage— was hilarious.”

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July 2020