Shelby Reardon named queen of Cotillion
By Susan Smallheer
Staff Writer | May 06,2013
Shelby Reardon was named the 2013 Apple Blossom Queen at the 57th annual Apple Blossom Cotillion at Dressel Gym. Reardon was escorted by Archie Farmer III.
SPRINGFIELD — Shelby Reardon has wanted to be Apple Blossom queen since she was in kindergarten, and Saturday night her childhood dream came true.
Tradition and tribute took center stage Saturday, as the 57th annual Apple Blossom Cotillion celebrated country music and the country, ending with an emotional honor to people serving the country, set to the song “God Bless the USA.”
Reardon, 17, was the choice of the six-judge panel, who evaluated the 15 high school girls on poise, appearance and performance, as well as conducting interviews earlier in the day.
Named to the queen’s court were Merranda Lenahan, Angelina Mei, Courtney Page and Jillian Rushton, all seniors at Springfield High School.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Reardon, after she was crowned with a tiara and received her traditional bouquet of flowers from the 2012 queen, Lauren Fountain, as her mother wiped away her own tears of emotion.
The Apple Blossom Cotillion is a throwback to the 1950s, when it was founded by Springfield Hospital to raise funds in the community. No longer a vehicle for debutantes, in Springfield the highly popular cotillion celebrates youth, music and dance, with a big dash of cute in the form of dozens of elementary school students, also in tuxedos and fancy dresses.
Reardon was once one of those “future cotillionaires,” and she said she danced and sang in five or six cotillions until this year, when as a senior she got to compete for the tiara. The couples have been rehearsing every Sunday afternoon since January, and thousands of people come to the final performances every May.
Reardon’s escort was Archie Farmer III. Lenahan was escorted by Zack Cooper, Mei by Jacob Therrien, Page was accompanied by Michael Muther, and Rushton by Jordan Crowley. Reardon is the daughter of Robin McNamara and Allan Reardon of Springfield.
The 15 couples danced and sang country music favorites such as ‘‘Cowboys and Angels,’’‘‘Thank God I’m A Country Boy’’ and ‘‘Crazy.’’
The future cotillionaires, as the elementary school students participating in the pageant are called, danced and sang as well, teaming up with their big counterparts in ‘‘HoeDown ThrowDown,’’ and ‘‘Achy Breaky Heart.’’
The Directors’ Choice Award went to Mei, and Taylor Knoras was named Miss Congeniality and Muther Mr. Congeniality, selected by the contestants.
The contestants wore green chiffon floor-length gowns with vertical ruffles — perfect for showing off their dance moves — and during one number wore pink cowboy hats and cowboy boots under their silky gowns. The escorts donned cowboy hats with bandanas in their pockets, as well as bolo ties and vests, keeping with the country theme.
Reardon, who will attend Boston University next fall, plans on studying journalism, with a goal of going into sports broadcasting, a goal she has had since the seventh grade, her mother added.
Her high school journalism teacher, Mike Janiszyn, was on hand to cheer his students on. “I knew when Shelby wasn’t picked for the court, she would be picked as queen,” said Janiszyn, who said Reardon has been an integral part of Green Horn Live!, the high school’s television news program.
In fact, of the queen and her court, all but Lenahan are members of the Green Horn staff, Janiszyn said proudly.
“I would guess they did very well with the judges’ interviews,” said the teacher, whose own daughter Mikhaila was the 2006 Apple Blossom queen.
Janiszyn said Reardon is already a talented journalist, and put together a story for Green Horn Live! about the Boston Marathon bombings, interviewing people who had been in Boston on April 15. “She’s a terrific student,” he said.
The theme of the night was “Cotillion Gone Country,” and the contestants and their escorts used the country theme, even down to wearing cowboy boots for some of their dance numbers.
The highlight of the evening’s performance was a tribute to service members in the community, as the contestants and audience sang along to ‘‘God Bless the USA.’’
Large portraits of two Springfield High School alumni who died while serving in Iraq, Kurt Dechen and Kevin Sheehan, were held by two youngsters in the front of the gathering in honor of their sacrifice.
Lori Brown and Tammy Farmer were the first-time directors of the 57th cotillion, which is a major fundraiser for Springfield Hospital’s scholarship and community education programs.
According to Larry Kraft of the Springfield Hospital Foundation, who is in his 13th year as master of ceremonies for the event, it is the only surviving cotillion in Vermont and New Hampshire.