Every September, the flowers of our nation’s womanhood gather in Belize City to pursue Belize’s most prestigious title, the Queen of the Bay, and the right to join the unbroken line of queenly succession dating back to 1946, and including such names as Juliet Orosco (better known as Juliet Soberanis), Sharon Dominguez, Karen Russell, Samantha Carlos, Ebony Lyall and Carrie Wong K.
On Sunday morning at 12:15, the title was passed from outgoing queen Ronnie Coye to queen-designate Miss Black Orchid, Karima Card, 21, a teacher of Belize City.
Card outlasted 9 other contestants from Belize, Cayo and Corozal Districts in a four-hour marathon pageant at the Belize Civic Center on Saturday night, August 30, to become the 63rd Queen of the Bay.
Second place went to Annlyn Apolonio, 19, Miss Lake Independence, and Corozal Bay’s Courtney Cassanova finished third.
Card also took home the title of Ms. Eloquence, while Apolonio was named Ms. Photogenic. Miss Mesopotamia, Natasha Hernandez, was named winner of the Talent portion of the competition for her monologue, “I am Belize,” co-authored with her dance teacher Joseph Stamp Romero, while Queen of the West, Bernadine Tillett, was named Miss Amity.
Joining Card, Apolonio, Cassanova, and Hernandez as semifinalists was Miss Caribbean Shores, Camille Ottley. Falling at the first hurdle of the pageant and missing the semifinals were Queen of the West, Bernadine Tillett; Miss Queen’s Square, Kayla Arnold; Miss Belize City, Marilyn Flowers; Miss Belmopan City, Idolly Saldivar; and Miss Corozal, Alma Rochester.
While the talent and question-and-answer portions were well received, the distinctive element in the Queen of the Bay, the formal parade and curtsy before the reigning Queen, Miss Ronnie Coye, was the most anticipated and well-received portion of the pageant.
Notoriously difficult, the formal march and curtsy produced a number of suspenseful moments and at its end, all the candidates received a deserved round of applause, which they received with grateful and tired smiles.
Card may have sealed the title with her selection of former two-term Prime Minister Rt. Hon. George Cadle Price, the “Father of Independence,” when asked to select a Belizean patriot and explain his/her contribution to Belize.
Apolonio got the assent of the crowd when she implored Belizean politicians to stop disagreeing amongst themselves, a pattern that she said “has trickled down to the rest of society.” She asked Belizeans instead to emulate the original Baymen’s decision to fight hand in hand with each other to stave off the Spanish threat in 1798.
While she missed out on the title, Corozal Bay’s Cassanova promised to work with young people and instill them with the mantra of productivity, as well as acting as a suitable role model.
The Belize Dance Company, Stamp Romero’s Blue Machine Dancers, and serenaders Dejon Tucker and Wilson Grinage provided Saturday night’s entertainment.
Card’s prizes include a scholarship to the University of Belize from the Ministry of Education, various beauty treatments, $2,000 total cash from the September Celebrations Committee, Midtown Parking and the Central Bank, and a ladies’ watch from James Brodie and Company Ltd.
As Ms. Eloquence, she also received $100 from Simon Quan, and gifts from former Queen Deserine Usher and William Quan and Company.
However, the greatest prize of all comes nine days from now, as on September 10, as is traditional, she will be installed by her predecessor during the September 10 celebrations at Memorial Park, and will join that unbroken line of “beautiful, smiling Queens of the Bay.”