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TUESDAY, JULY 3, 2007
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The reigning Miss Point Mallard, Jessica Headley from Hoover, with state Rep. Bill Dukes, right, a former Decatur mayor,  and Julian Walker, former director of the Parks and Recreation Department, on Monday evening. Headley will give up her crown to a successor Wednesday night during the finals of the Miss Point Mallard Pageant.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
The reigning Miss Point Mallard, Jessica Headley from Hoover, with state Rep. Bill Dukes, right, a former Decatur mayor, and Julian Walker, former director of the Parks and Recreation Department, on Monday evening. Headley will give up her crown to a successor Wednesday night during the finals of the Miss Point Mallard Pageant.

Setting stage for pageantry
Set must withstand wind,
rain as well as please the eye

By Paul Huggins
phuggins@decaturdaily.com · 340-2395

Neither wind, nor rain nor lack of money can interfere with Mickey Johnson’s stage props for the 41st annual Spirit of America Festival.

He’s the volunteer charged with decorating the Spirit Stage for the Miss Point Mallard Pageant as well as for the VIP awards ceremony. Monday he busily brushed the finishing touches to wood fence props in keeping with the pageant’s “Gone Country” theme.

The painting is the easy part.

The challenge, Johnson said, is designing and building props strong enough to withstand sudden gusts of wind without falling over, while being light and portable enough to remove quickly.

“We have 15 minutes to change the stage (from the awards ceremony) to pageant,” he said. “And we try to do it with minimal crew so you don’t have a lot of people backstage.”

The pageant starts Tuesday night at 7 at Point Mallard Park and features 13 young women competing in swimsuit, evening gown, talent and interview segments. Judges will narrow them down to a top eight for the finals Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Admission is free, but attendees should bring lawn chairs.

Johnson has six years experience building pageant sets and also can draw on his stage experience from performing with Encore! and directing Dream-Weavers.

Making his challenge more difficult is that he must stretch a limited budget.

Johnson, manager of the graphic arts department at Boeing, said he’s spent $48 this year. That covered the country props, a new sign for the Little Miss Point Mallard Pageant and a new mural on the stage wall.

He painted a sun setting over a valley this year, and it was the first time he’s ever painted the wall. This saved him and his volunteer assistant, Colleen Gilhooly, time and money on building and painting backdrop props, he said. The most he’s spent since taking over the stage decorating is about $300.

“We’ve got to be as thrifty as we can. The more money I spend, the less money goes into the scholarships for the girls,” he said, proudly adding that the Miss Point Mallard pageant has the highest scholarship payout of any Miss America preliminary in the state.

Other festival activities Tuesday at Point Mallard Park include children’s games, the Spirit Idol singing competition and the Little Miss Point Mallard Pageant, all starting at 4 p.m.

The ’80s rock group Survivor will perform after the pageant.

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