The opening number of the Miss Delaware 2013 Pageant featured all 23 contestants performing a complex, choreographed routine to Will I Am's hit club tune, "That Power." Those 23 girls were quickly whittled down to 11, though, with two young ladies representing Middletown leaving their mark alongside this year's winner, Miss Dover Rebecca Jackson.
Miss Middletown Jamila Mustafa, who may not have walked away with the crown, did walk away as Miss Congeniality, typically awarded to the girl with the most gracious attitude and a special honor because it's voted on by fellow contestants.
"For me to even make it to the top  was phenomenal," said Mustafa when asked about her reaction to advancing forward in the pageant. "And a lot of people said, 'You should've made it to the top five; I thought you were going to win. But, it's so hard for the judges because it's not like it was a blowout. Everybody was good."
First runner-up went to Middletown resident Miss Mid-State Alix Hayden Gardner. So, if for any reason the newly crowned Miss Delaware can't fulfill her duties, Gardner could find herself in a brighter spotlight. However, she's not concentrating on that at all. She's just happy with how she placed and happy for her friend.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic. I never thought this would happen to me," said Gardner. "This year, my goal was to do better than I did last year and I really wanted to make it into the top five. And, to be honored as Rebecca Jackson's first runner-up, I couldn't be more happy about that."
The winner of the pageant earns almost $10,000 in scholarship money and the opportunity to compete in the Miss America 2014 competition later this year in Atlantic City, NJ.
"I'm just so excited to represent the state of Delaware and I know I'm going to do a great job," Jackson said during the after party.
Jackson's platform is fostering children and her mission involves "teaching them music in order to facilitate bonds between their family and them," she said. "But I also want to take this to [schools] because every single child can relate to music and can find their self-worth in music."
Miss Delaware 2012 Alyssa Murray is confident Jackson will shine as her replacement.
"I could not be happier with their choice," said Murray, of Selbyville. "She's going to do wonderful things with the title, as far as service, and she's going to be a force at Miss America."