This past Saturday, Miss New York Mallory Hagan was crowned the winner at the 2013 Miss America Pageant, marking the first time a contestant from the Empire State has won since Vanessa Williams was given the title nearly 3 decades ago. Stranger still, Hagan doesn't hail from Poughkeepsie or Rochester (no offense to the good people of either of these places — I've seen your train stations and they're tops), but from the mecca of co-op food shopping, $700 strollers and chasing your bliss, Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Though Hagan, 23, is originally from Alabama, she moved to Park Slope several years ago when she came to New York to study at FIT. Still, she credits the borough with her win, saying on her blog, "In the time I've spent in New York, Brooklyn has grown very close to my heart. I love New York (and not in a tourist T-shirt kind of way) dearly and I truly believe this is the city where dreams come true. Thank you, Brooklyn, for helping me get one step closer to mine."
But what do the people of Brooklyn, specifically the people of Park Slope, think of her? The New York Times, who have been Daniel Boone-ing the shit out of Brooklyn for the past 15 years, were kind enough to ask.
"It's bizarre, right?" said Jane Hoppen, a writer, sitting at the bar at the Double Windsor in southern Park Slope on Sunday afternoon. Nothing against Miss America herself, whom she called a "damned good tap dancer," but, well, to be honest: "We don't believe in beauty pageants."
If you're wondering who this we is, the answer is everybody. The people of Park Slope are the tastemakers after all. Won't be long now before the disbelief trickles down to the rest of us.
Some neighborhood denizens (likely all transplants themselves) were a little more chill about it:
Amy Brill, 42, a writer who lives just south of Prospect Park, simply laughed when she heard the news.
"That's hilarious!" She turned to her 4-year-old daughter, Isa, and asked, "Do you know who Miss America is?"
Isa shook her head.
"Miss America is a girl who represents our country," Ms. Brill said, offering what some might consider a wishful description. "What do you think she should be like?"
"Like she's a real person," Isa replied, adding thoughtfully: "Like she's not a baby."
Great answer, Isa! (Seriously.) Miss America should be a real person who doesn't act like a baby. Unfortunately, the case with pageants is generally quite the opposite, but still — I like the way you think.
Will Hagan's victory start a trend amongst Brooklyn's most mockable parents? Unlikely. When asked whether she would encourage young Isa to join a pageant, Brill told the Times "never in a million years," adding reasonably, "I want them to feel beautiful every minute of their lives, and I want them to judge whether they're beautiful and not anybody else."
Well, at least NY Senator Chuck Schumer is excited. "Just goes to show that people from Brooklyn can do everything and anything," he proclaimed. "Pizza, bagels, beauty and talent - there's nothing we don't have in the borough of Kings."
I, for one, would like to hear less about this beauty and talent and more about these pizzas and bagels.