Two young women representing Cobb in next week’s Miss Georgia and Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen pageant greeted fans and friends at the Cobb Civic Center to bid farewell Tuesday night before they head off to Columbus to compete for their respective crowns.
The week-long event begins Saturday and both Maggie Bridges, Miss Cobb County, and Abby Quarles, Miss Cobb County Outstanding Teen, said they can’t wait to represent Cobb at the state level.
Quarles, a 16-year-old Marietta resident and junior at Johnson Ferry Christian Academy, said she hopes her experience at the event won’t go by too quickly. “It’s the first year I’ve done any kind of pageant so I’m super excited, but I’m also really nervous because I don’t know exactly what to expect,” she said.
Bridges, a 20-year-old Georgia Tech junior and biochemistry major, said Tuesday’s event was to allow friends and family to get a sneak peek at her and Quarles’ wardrobe choices and to wish them well.
Bridges will be competing for the opportunity to represent Georgia in the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City in September. Quarles aspires to advance to Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando in August.
Both pageants are staged together at the River Center for Performing Arts in Columbus.
Bridges, a Brinson native, said her nerves are mostly under control for the big competition.
“I actually participated in the teen program when I was Abby’s age, so it’s new because I’m in the Miss program, but it’s also kind of an older experience, so I kind of know what to expect,” Bridges said.
No matter the outcome, the twosome said they are excited to meet women from around the state involved in the program.
“We’re both going into it with an attitude that we just want to have a great time and that’s what it’s about — the experience, the friendships,” Bridges said. “At the end, only one girl walks away with the shiny hat.”
“But we have each other,” Quarles added.
“We feel like the friendships we have and the friendships we make with people there are what is most important about the organization,” Bridges said.
For the first time, a parade will highlight activities on opening day as contestants arrive in Columbus on Saturday for eight days of publicity events, rehearsals and preliminary competition with the new Peach State winners named on Saturday, June 22.
The daughter of Sandy and John Quarles of Marietta, Quarles maintains a 4.3 GPA and has been inducted into the National Honor Society at her high school. She will be jointenrolled next year at Truett McConnell College in Cleveland and also will be an editor for her high school yearbook.
During her year of community service, Quarles has been actively promoting her platform, “Arts for All — Emphasizing the Arts in Smart.” A company member of Georgia Dance Conservatory located on the Marietta Square, she will perform a ballet en pointe to Gamzatti’s Variation from La Bayadere in the talent portion of the pageant. Quarles said she aspires to be a professional ballerina.
“I can’t wait to be on the stage performing for the Columbus community,” she said. “I’m really hoping to raise awareness for the arts there.” The teen’s education goals include earning a double major with bachelor degrees in both dance and in sports management. Her family is a longtime supporter of the Miss America program with her mother, the former Sandy Dashinger, finishing as first runner-up in the 1979 Miss Cobb County Scholarship Pageant.
Traveling to Columbus as the 55th Miss Cobb County, Bridges said after she graduates from Georgia Tech she hopes to earn her doctor of pharmacy degree with a goal to open her own pharmacy as a licensed pharmacist.
A member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Bridges has served as philanthropy committee chair and vice president for the Panhellenic Council. She also is a tour guide for Georgia Tech and was featured in a video to promote the education advantages of attending an engineering university.
As an active community service volunteer, Bridges has logged more than 800 volunteer hours for various causes. Her community service platform is “Improving the Lives of Others through Volunteerism.” “The whole week in Columbus will include so many charitable events, including a 5K run where we get to wear pajamas and the proceeds will benefit the Children’s Miracle Network,” Bridges said. “I’m excited I’ll get to bring awareness to volunteerism through those opportunities.”
The daughter of Cathy and John Bridges, Bridges said she is proud that her mother Cathy participated in the Miss Georgia Pageant as Miss Bainbridge in l982. The former Cathy Brown was the roommate of Miss Cobb County Ginny Parsons that year at the Miss Georgia Pageant.
For her talent performance, Bridges will sing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the Broadway musical “Carousel” in the talent competition.
Both contestants are sponsored by the Miss Cobb County Scholarship Pageant, a nonprofit composed of community volunteers. For information on becoming a volunteer, sponsor, scholarship donor or contestant, visit www.misscobb.com.
Applications are now being accepted for the 56th annual Miss Cobb County Scholarship Pageant on Aug. 3. The deadline to enter is June 25. Contestants must be single, 17 to 23 years old and a high school graduate.
The Miss Cobb County Scholarship Pageant is the top pageant for awarding scholarships in the Miss Georgia system with over $250,000 in scholarships awarded since l958.