On Saturday, an Opelika woman’s longtime dream of competing for the crown of Miss America will finally happen — win or lose.
Mallory Hagan, who became Miss New York in July 2012, will compete in the 2013 Miss America Pageant, which will air live on ABC at 8 p.m. Saturday from Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The winner will be crowned at the end of the evening by Miss America 2012, Laura Kaeppeler.
Hagan’s mother, Mandy Moore, said she and her family have been in Las Vegas since Jan. 10 and despite staying in the same city as their daughter, did not see her until Tuesday due to Hagan’s commitments to the competition.
“We finally got to hug her after being here that long without seeing her,” Moore said.
For a mother, seeing Hagan competing on a national stage is a dream in and of itself.
“It’s just neat to be a part of someone achieving their dream,” Moore said.
Moore said Hagan began competing in pageants as a young girl in the Lee County Fair pageant every year until she won the title of Teen Miss Auburn Opelika, which gave her the opportunity to participate in Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen, which is a part of the Miss Alabama Pageant.
Moore discussed in depth the anxiety she and her family felt when Hagan — her only child — decided to leave home and move to New York City with little money and uncertain prospects. However, Moore said Hagan has done well for herself, attending school at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“You raise your children to live their dreams and to be independent, so we supported her in that and let her go find herself for a little while,” Moore said.
After six months in New York, Hagan competed in and won the Miss Brooklyn pageant and was runner-up for Miss New York two years before winning last summer. She had also previously won Miss Manhattan and Miss New York City.
Moore said Hagan has been competing all week in various segments, starting with swimsuit and evening wear on Tuesday, followed by the talent show, which showcased Hagan’s high-energy tap dance routine to James Brown’s “Get Up Offa That Thing.” However, the contestants had already been working before the competition started, shooting video segments for the show across Las Vegas and attending dinners sponsored by local restaurants.
“They’ve been doing a lot of stuff before competition time,” Moore said.
Moore said Hagan is confident about her performance.
“In her mind, she put out 110 percent out there, so the cards can fall where they may and she’ll be proud because she did her best,” Moore said.
Apart from supporting Hagan at the competitions, Moore and 35 friends and family members have been exploring the city, going shopping and visiting local casinos. However, one big aspect of the trip has been getting lots of rest.
“It’s exhausting,” Moore said.
Moore said she is proud of her daughter regardless of the outcome because Hagan set a goal and ultimately reached it simply by being in the competition.
“She’s had so many cards stacked up against her, and she just keeps persevering, and she’s finally here where she’s always wanted to be,” Moore said.
Hagan’s father, Phil Hagan, said watching her compete in pageants has been incredible in that it culminates in the Miss America event.
“It’s a lifelong thing that we have gone through as a family … and to have them all here watching her on the national stage is overwhelming as a parent,” said Hagan’s father.
Hagan’s childhood friend Ali Morgan also travelled to Las Vegas to show her support and encouragement. The two have known one another since attending Opelika Middle School.
“She’s so deserving of this, and she’s worked very hard to get here,” Morgan said.
There will be a viewing party at Niffer’s in Opelika starting at 7 p.m. The event planner, Kari Pierce, said she has known Hagan for most of her life and is very proud of her accomplishments.
“Everyone that knows her knows that there has been something special in her life,” Pierce said. “No one is surprised that this is something that she is doing.”