The 35th annual Ms. Mature Irving pageant took place at the Irving Arts Center on Friday, Oct. 6, and proved a fun night to celebrate the senior women of the city.
“The community we share today was built on the hard work and efforts of our senior population,” Parks and Recreation Director Ray Cerda wrote in the program. “Tonight’s contestants will carry on in the same tradition.”
This year’s Ms. Mature Irving 2017 is Louise Childs, an actress and gardening enthusiast who came to Irving all the way from Canada.
Childs originally came to Irving to help her daughter raise her grandson, who is now a college junior. She welcomed 38 children into her home, both biological and through foster care, and her favorite nickname is Nana Louise.
With a humorous performance of “Walter, Walter” and a black gown and pearls chosen for the evening wear portion of the contest, both the audience and the judges appreciated Childs’ presence and background.
“I’m just shocked,” said Childs, who participated in the pageant previously.
The other three contestants were Susan Wiese, who volunteers as preschool minister and enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband; Monica Walters, who came to Irving from Nairobi, Kenya, and volunteers at her Catholic Church; and Alene Ford, a Texas native with a long career in civil service.
All four shone in the talent competition. Wiese and Childs showed off their singing skills with renditions of “The Lonely Goatherd” from “The Sound of Music,” and Gracie Fields’ “Walter, Walter,” respectively, while Walter danced to a praise song, and Ford told a Texas-style tall tale from her childhood.
The questions for the contestants provided a glimpse of the duties required of 2017’s Ms. Mature Irving, inquiring about everything from the best advice given to them in their youth to the best way to stay healthy while aging.
The contestants voted Susan Wiese as Ms. Congeniality 2017.
Pageant Coordinator Patricia Davenport introduced Catherine Whiteman and Doug McAlister as the evening’s masters of ceremonies, as well as 2017 Miss Texas Margana Wood. While contestants changed backstage between appearances, Wood treated the audience to a show of the dancing skills that helped her win her title, and McAlister, the Heritage Senior Center’s current Senior Idol, sang. Jerilyn Cook accompanied the contestants on piano.
All the hosts agreed the judges had the most difficult job of the night in choosing just one of the four women to win the crown.
The judges’ panel consisted of tap dancer Sandy McCravy, publisher Zoe Frost, and longtime civil servant Linda Spencer.
Ms. Mature Irving 2016 also played a large part in the competition. Marilyn Wolford sang and danced between portions of the competition, and said she will be happy to advise Childs as she begins her reign.
In honor of her contributions during her own reign, Mayor Pro Tem John Danish announced Oct. 6, 2017 as officially Marilyn Wolford Day.
“I’ll still have plenty to keep me busy,” Wolford said.
Other past Ms. Mature Irvings also attended the competition in their sashes and joined the contestants on stage as the 2017 winner was announced. After Childs was crowned, all joined in to offer congratulations and advice for the next Ms. Mature to represent Irving.