By Leland Kim
WAIKIKI (KHNL) - Contestants for Friday night's Miss Hawaii Scholarship Pageant got ready to take the stage. There are three categories the contestants competed in: swimwear, talent and evening gown. A one-on-one interview with the judges was held prior to Friday night.
And at the end of the night, a new Miss Hawaii will be chosen. The reigning Miss Hawaii Pilialoha Gaison will crown her successor in a matter of hours.
Pili's life changed the moment her name was announced as the new Miss Hawaii. She said she's been honored to represent our state and our people. As she gets ready to give up her crown, she's filled with gratitude.
"Ladies and gentlemen, your representative to Miss America is Miss Island Ilima Pilialoha Gaison!" announced Howard Dashefsky, the pageant host and KHNL News 8's anchor, at last year's pageant.
Those words jump started a magical journey for the Kaneohe native.
"Once I heard my name, it was just so surreal until I could watch it the next day on television," said Gaison. "Just watch the replay, and I realized, 'Wow! This really is my dream come true!'"
Her dream year took Gaison throughout our state, talking to students about making positive choices. She also went to the mainland to compete in Miss America, where many contestants wanted to know more about the "aloha state." She placed Top 10 that year.
"Just painting a picture or showing them pictures of what Hawaii looks like, has them captured," Gaison said about her fellow Miss America contestants. "So, being able to exemplify that to people who have never come here, to be the only Hawaii they've ever seen, was my responsibility."
On the day she gave away her crown, Gaison helped contestants put their best foot forward. She's enjoyed being Hawaii's ambassador, and she hopes to continue that role.
"I would like to work in the hotel industry, hopefully doing event coordinating or p.r. work," said Gaison.
She passes on this advice to her successor:
"Once you become Miss Hawaii, remember that you are a representative, and that you are to lead by example, and that more than being a representative, you are here to serve your community," she said. "Do just that because we're counting on you."
Capping a year of service while spreading Hawaii's aloha spirit.