When Mary L. McCoy finally heard her name called, after a challenging three hours, she never even broke a sweat. The 61-year-old Florida native simply stepped forward, widened her smile and beamed at her family sitting in the audience screaming her name. The former federal government employee and current metro area resident gushed at the fact that all of the hard work that she put forth in her senior years finally came to fruition. McCoy posed for a few pictures, strutted across the stage and donned her new crown as Ms. Senior D.C.
Among the eight contestants sitting inside the University of the District of Columbia’s main auditorium on June 24, McCoy was recognized as the most talented and the best salesperson before taking first place in the 28th annual Ms. Senior District of Columbia Pageant. Eight women, all above the age of 60, grooved, soothed and wooed a crowd of about 400 in the theater.
In the afternoon there was a talent segment and an evening gown showcase when the contestants told jokes, danced and even played the piano, performing a wide range of talents while showing onlookers that you don’t have to be young to be spry.
Towards the twilight of the evening, the contestants gathered one last time to dance to Michael Jackson’s Beat It and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, drawing a standing ovation from the audience. But in the end, the night belonged to McCoy, whose nifty moves earned raucous recognition in her talent portion to a New Orleans-style second line groove. And in her speech for the philosophy on life segment of the show, McCoy’s educated yet down-to-earth reflection even made her fellow competition applaud.
“I’m overwhelmed,” McCoy said after winning. “I had not planned for this. I thought it would be nice to do but I had no idea I would be selected as the winner.”
While McCoy never had an idea that she would win, she prepared for the event like a proven champion. As an active senior, McCoy’s youthful energy allowed her to obtain six gold medals in the 2011 Senior Olympics and occupy nearly six different roles as a member of Ebenezer United Methodist Church. And although she’s already on the move, McCoy is set to become even busier in the coming months. The national competition for Ms. Senior America is slated for October and McCoy is already scheduled to go to Cleveland next year for a senior track and field event in which she will be representing D.C.
“I got a plate full including all of the engagements that I know will be demanded of me but I’m up for the challenge,” McCoy said after the show.
Platforms like the D.C. pageant gave a group of women the chance to show the inner and outer beauty of some of the area’s more experienced women. And while only one was awarded with a first place crown, every single contestant gracing the stage won over their families and loved ones on a Sunday afternoon.
The importance of similar pageants “says that seniors still got it going on,” a jubilant McCoy said. “My whole thing is, `Stay active.’ I work out, volunteer and just keep my mind busy. You have to stay active.”