Homecoming king, queen pageant showcases students’ talents

Contestants perform in the opening number of the King and Queen Pageant Monday in the Shalala Student Center. Kristi Townsend // Contributing Photographer
Contestants perform in the opening number of the King and Queen Pageant Monday in the Shalala Student Center. Kristi Townsend // Contributing Photographer

Two-time Homecoming champion Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC) made a strong case to defend its title. The group inched closer to a three-peat as Daniela Lorenzo and Jorge Gonzalez took home the crown for queen and prince respectively in Monday night’s Homecoming King and Queen pageant.

Twelve finalists for king, queen, prince and princess showcased their talents at the Shalala Student Center Grand Ballroom to compete for the four crowns. Donovan Thomas of the United Black Students took home the glory of Homecoming king and Olivia Watson of Alpha Delta Pi was named princess.

Six male and female students from their respective organizations competed against each other to get their organizations more points in the overall Homecoming competition. Each king contestant was first paired with a queen contestant to perform a “spirit skit” reflecting this year’s theme of “For My City.” The duos had to give a performance based on a pre-determined location and a tradition of the university given to them by the Homecoming Executive Committee (HEC).

Contestants also performed individually, rounding off the competition with a question and answer session where contestants had to pick questions out of a bucket about how much Miami means to them.

Lorenzo, who is also the president of FEC, was paired with Alex Besmer of Alpha Episolon Pi for their skit with “Santa’s Enchanted Forest” as the location and the school tradition of Alma Mater. Their comedic skit involved them as detectives of the university, trying to get back a piece of the university’s spirit – which were the lyrics of the alma mater – that was stolen by an angry duck that was not chosen as the mascot for the university.

Their performance had the audience laughing, but it was Lorenzo’s individual talent that captivated the audience most.

Dressed as Wednesday Addams with a black outfit and pigtails, the senior with over 10 years of experience in musical theatre performed a rendition of the song “Pulled” from “The Addams Family” musical.

“I’m a little overwhelmed but I’m really happy I won and got FEC the points. We take Homecoming very, very seriously,” Lorenzo said.  “I really loved the musical, and this was a fun, quirky song to do, so that’s what I chose.”

The prince and princess also sang their way to the crowns, with Mendez singing and playing “Take Me To Church” by Hozier on the guitar and Watson singing her own original song. But it was the king who took the spotlight.

Thomas did something that no other contestant did this year: recite a poem that he created. It was titled “How Long” and dedicated to a girl. The poem used powerful imagery, metaphors and allegories that revered the unnamed girl and conveyed powerful affections toward her.

“I already wrote a poem that is actually eight minutes long, but [HEC] told me I had to trim it down to two minutes,” Thomas said. “I wanted to sing it but I figured that a spoken-word performance would be more unique. I know there was a lot of talent out here so it feels good when you put your mind to something and achieve it.”

For the question and answer session, Thomas was asked what his favorite spot on campus is and why. He answered with the Rock, as it’s the heart of campus and a place for him to meet friends.

“Friendship is the biggest drive in college and this is the place where you are most likely to meet people and your friends,” Thomas answered. “I put my all in relationships with people and try to know as many people as I can. Just hanging out on the Rock, you are most likely to run into new and old faces.”

While only four contestants were recognized with crowns, the other eight contestants gave a show to remember for the rowdy audience. All 12 contestants opened the show outfitted in tank tops doing a beach-themed dance to “Magalenha” by Sergio Mendes, “Feeling Myself” by Nicki Minaj featuring Beyonce, “Watch Me” by Silentó and “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony.

The only freshman contestant, Caroline Zimmerman of Hecht Residential College, performed on the djembe drum.

The competition was judged by Andrew Wiemer, director of the Butler Center Service and Leadership, Aysha Daniels, director of Orientation, Ann Olazabal, vice-dean of the School of Business and Andrew Porter, assistant professor of clinical at the School of Nursing and Health Studies.

Murals created by student organizations decorated the ballroom walls. Each organization created a painting inspired by the Wynwood Walls while incorporating the Homecoming theme. The artwork will be judged on Friday during the Hurricane Howl event.

“It was an amazing event that exceeded my expectations,” co-chair Danielle McIntosh said. “This event brings our alumni back and keeps the spirit of the University of Miami alive with the numerous talent that the students have.”

Contestants for Queen

(Queen) Daniela Lorenzo – Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos

(Princess) Caroline Zimmerman – Hecht Residential College

Olivia Watson – Alpha Delta Pi sorority

Jordana Herr – Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority

Brianna Hathaway – Zeta Tau Alpha sorority

Megan Lipsky – Chi Omega sorority

Contestants for King

(King) Donavon Thomas – United Black Students

(Prince) Jorge Gonzalez – Federación de Estudiantes Cubanos

Ken Bowden – Pi Kappa Phi fraternity

Tony Maganini – Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity

Alex Besmer – Alpha Epsilon Pi

Mohamed Nuh – Council of International Students and Organization

Feature photo courtesy Flickr user xjy.

Correction Nov. 4, 2015: This article originally referred to Pi Kappa Phi fraternity as Pi Kappa Alpha, and Ken Bowden was originally listed as Prince.