Meet Miss Delaware 2008 Galen Giaccone.
An unexpected variation on “Flight of the Bumblebee” greeted those walking up the driveway of a Camden-Wyoming home last Friday morning. Just a week before the same piano player making the keys dance to “Bumblebee” was getting ready to play something a bit more complicated – the lively, complex “El Cumbanchero” – in an effort to stand out from her 18 fellow contestants in the Miss Delaware pageant.
Piano enthusiast, biology major and relative newcomer to the pageant circuit Galen Giaccone took the Miss Delaware title June 14 at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino’s Rollins Center.
Giaccone’s first competition resulted in her win of the Delaware Junior Miss 2006 title. At that point, she was in it for the scholarship money to the University of Delaware, one of her top choices and the school she now attends.
But at the prodding of now friend Brittany Dempsey, last year’s Miss Delaware and Dover native, Giaccone entered the Miss Delaware system of pageants, winning first the title of Miss Central Delaware and then Miss Diamond State.
And now Miss Delaware. Preparation was essential.
Giaccone said for all the hard work she has put in, winning always comes as a bit of a surprise.
“It all kind of happened pretty quickly,” she said.
One of the things she said might have set her apart from other competitors was her mindset. Giaccone entered the competition ready to take on the position of Miss Delaware as soon as she was crowned. That meant talking to the University of Delaware and her parents about taking a year off to fulfill her duties and preparing herself for the challenge.
She’s excited about the opportunities she’ll have this year, including this fall’s filming of “Miss America: Reality Check,” a reality show following the Miss America contestants.
Not that Giaccone is all about makeup and cameras.
The self-proclaimed former tomboy who swam and played field hockey and lacrosse still enjoys boating and hiking in Colorado with her family.
Her platform, dental outreach, isn’t particularly glamorous either, but Giaccone is set on promoting dental health this coming year and eventually going to dental school.
She made headway toward that goal by working at Mercer Dental Associates and traveled with her bosses to Guatemala in April 2007 to work on dental outreach.
Walking the walk when it comes to being a role model is integral, she said. She wants to show that success means achieving lofty heights, but then spreading the wealth.
“No goal is too far off limits,” she said. “It’s not only important to do things that are best for yourself ... but to apply that to another community.”
Giaccone spent her spring break this year in South Carolina building homes for Habitat for Humanity with fellow biology majors.
“What else am I going to do over spring break?” she asked with a smile.
laughter fuel Giaccone
Dineen Bejger, director of Miss Diamond State and Miss New Castle County, said Giaccone’s determination and talent were elements of her success. She asks her contestants to keep a weekly journal listing their goals, and to study time management.
“This was essential for Galen while holding a title and setting her goal to be Miss Delaware because her schedule essentially ran from the early hours of dawn until late in the evening every day,” Bejger said. “It was tough to squeeze everything in with classes and labs as a biology major. I would be amazed as her journal came by email late on Sunday evening as organized and detailed as could be with sometimes a little humor as well.”
Mom Liza said Galen is more than ready to laugh at herself, to make herself the butt of any joke.
Another advantage Giaccone carried into the pageant was her talent.
“Piano’s a huge part of my life,” she said.
Her mom echoed that statement, adding that Giaccone would practice – without being asked – for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, a few times a day, even as a child.
Recently Giaccone traveled to Missouri to work with talent consultant Bill Wolfe, who has trained the current and former Miss Americas. After hearing her play, he recruited her to perform during the Miss Missouri pageant, for which he is musical director.
“He said that while she had been in Missouri ... that people would drop what they were doing and listen in shock and amazement at her skill,” Bejger said.
At Miss Delaware, Giaccone took a preliminary talent award, which is something Bejger hopes she repeats at Miss America.
“We hope to see her as a minimum place at Miss America with a preliminary talent award. She has the beauty and intelligence to do much more,” she said.
Editor’s note: Sarika Jagtiani is a Staff Writer for the Dover Post of which the Transcript is affiliated.