by Richard Lamb–Advance Editor
With the setting of the stage at the Rogers Theater, Callie Rhode became Miss Nautical Coast 2023. The pageant attendees filled the house with an estimated crowd of nearly 250 people who came to cheer on the first event of the Nautical City Festival.
Rhode, the daughter of Ashley Rhode and Jess Halleck, won the fashion runway award, evening gown, and onstage speaking awards and shared the congeniality award with Teen Miss winner Peyton Gohl, who is the daughter of Shellie and William Gohl.
“I loved meeting all the new girls, building a sisterhood with everybody and having this new life experience. Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to do this and I wasn’t going to but my mom actually pushed me to enter and I am glad she did,” Rhode said.
She said she attended her first pageant as a 6 year old and attended a few since then, always dreaming of when it would be her chance. Participating in the pageant gave her a new sense of confidence, as many have said before her and valuable life lessons.
“I will take out of this to never take anything for granted and always try your best and try new things any time the opportunity comes up,” the new queen said after the pageant. “Being in the pageant is an amazing experience. You are going to meet tons of new people and you will build bonds that will last an entire lifetime.”
First runner-up was awarded to Sophia Mina, the daughter of Alvin and Eleanor Mina, Sophia performed a flute solo to a work by Tchaikovsky.
Sofya Hincka, daughter of Tammy and Eric Hincka, won the talent award for her lyrical signing ribbon dance.
Mina shared the art award with Morgan Bruning, the daughter of Mindy and Kyle Bruning. Mina decorated a wine glass with feathers and pearls while Morgan’s art was a feathered fan.
The pageant took place in the Rogers Theater for the first time since the 2008 event. Pageant directors Missy Bannon, Nicole Bannasch and Mikaela Bannon, who also served as mistress of ceremonies of the event, planned an evening that went smoothly.
The new queen was crowned by outgoing Miss Nautical Coast Elizabeth Romel who offered an emotional farewell speech. She saved her final words of appreciation for her family, including parents Ariane and John Romel.
“Most importantly to my family, I can never thank you enough for your tolerance of me. Although you were just as doubtful as me of my crazy idea to enter this program, I was grateful we all shared the same amount of shock when I was first crowned. You guys have always supported me through everything and for that I am extremely grateful,” Elizabeth said.
The pageant crowd was treated to dance performances by Caroline Supina and Madysen Gohl, who is Miss Volunteer Michigan after serving as Miss Nautical Coast in 2021. Pageant judges were Kendra Denholm, Kyle Denholm and Kindra Chappell Millarsky. Auditor for the even was Laura Hentkowski.