Retired York educator crowned Ms. Pennsylvania Senior, moving on to nationals
After tireless months practicing her dance moves and public speaking skills — Delma Rivera was simply shocked when she was declared the winner of the 2022 Pennsylvania Senior America Pageant last week.
Behind her, however, echoed a chorus of screams — "We won!"
For the retired Central York High School educator, it takes a village to raise one woman up. The dozens of supporters who helped coach Rivera throughout the pageant process proudly declared the win as a team effort.
"Everyone was calling it Team Delma," Rivera said. "Everyone was helping me with my gown choice, how to wear my hair, practicing my philosophy of life — which had to be memorized. It was the team effort."
Rivera will now move on to the national competition, representing Pennsylvania.
The competition, aiming to celebrate all that senior women can do, is what struck Rivera the most when she first learned of the event.
“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.”
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.
The Ms. Senior America Pageant will take place from Sept. 5 through Sept. 9 in Hershey.
Though the next competition isn't for another three months, Rivera won't rest.
She aims to continue working to perfect her talent — the bomba.
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 skirt would be used to tell a story with all the beautiful movements," Rivera said. "So for me, it's part of the tradition of Puerto Rico — of the bomba. So I'm very honored that I can do that."
Throughout the preparations of the competition, Rivera leaned on her support system.
It could be as simple as her husband moving the patio furniture so she could have more space to practice.
"I think right now I actually feel more relaxed in the next pageant than I even did for the state," Rivera said. "I feel like I've worked out a lot of those nerves."
— Reach Tina Locurto at email@example.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.