'It's been a whirlwind': Retired educator gears up for pageant competition

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

In between dance lessons and speech preparations, Delma Rivera took a special trip for one essential item to wrap up her pageant journey

At a small mother-and-daughter boutique in Aguada, Puerto Rico, Rivera found the evening gown that would carry her through the three-day Ms. Senior America Pageant competition.  

After winning on the state level in June, the retired Central York High School educator will hit the stage representing Pennsylvania in the 2022 national competition this September. 

Delma Rivera, of Springfield Township, tries on earrings with her evening gown during a fitting session at Gusa By Victoria in York City, Thursday, April 21, 2022. Rivera will wear the gown while competing in the Ms. Pennsylvania Senior America Pageant in Harrisburg on June 5. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"I screamed when I saw (the dress)," Rivera said. "I purchased my evening gown near my home. That's very special to me." 

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The Ms. Senior America Pageant competition is slated from Sept. 7 through Sept. 9 at Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by visiting https://mssenioramericallc.com.

The competition includes four judging categories: a private interview, a philosophy of life speech, talent performance and an evening gown competition meant to showcase grace and poise. 

Delma Rivera, of Springfield Township, was crowned the 2022 winner of the Pennsylvania Senior America Pageant. Photo credit of Delma Rivera.

For the talent portion, Rivera said it was important to tap into her heritage and perform the bomba, a traditional Puerto Rican dance with origins rooted in the island's history of African slavery. 

“The pageant is celebrating the age of excellence of women 60 and up. Often you think of older women as ‘has-beens’ and not contributing much,” Rivera said. “But we really are still quite vibrant — we have a lot to contribute to our communities.”

Despite the pageant being a competition, Rivera said she's had a chance to talk with the other candidates on social media and develop camaraderie.

Delma Rivera, of Springfield Township, puts on the shoes  as she tries on her evening gown with accessories during a fitting session at Gusa By Victoria in York City, Thursday, April 21, 2022. Rivera will wear the gown while competing in the Ms. Pennsylvania Senior America Pageant in Harrisburg on June 5. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"I just celebrated my birthday last week and I even received birthday cards from some of the other state queens," Rivera said. "And I just feel even without having gone to Hershey yet, that we're already bonding and creating a sisterhood within the Ms. Senior National Pageant."

And no matter the outcome of September's competition, Rivera said she feels honored representing Pennsylvania. 

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Being the state winner, Rivera will continue carrying out responsibilities until June 2023 — including visits to nursing homes and speaking on the philosophy and message of Ms. Senior National Pageant.

"It's been a whirlwind for the last three months," Rivera said. "And so far, it's just been a wonderful experience, and I'm enjoying this journey that I've been on."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto. 

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