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An audience with Her Grace



April 11, 2012 - By Lance Farrell

Leader Staff Writer

Receiving flowers from a princess isn't exactly an everyday occurrence Ė unless you are a prince.

But that's what happened to this reporter last week when Princess Elizabeth Gerke, 5, of Oxford, graced the Leader's offices with her regal presence.

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Elizabeth, who attends kindergarten at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Lake Orion, was recently crowned Miss Great Lakes State Princess.

Her majesty arrived for her big newspaper interview bearing a small bouquet of handpicked dandelions, which she presented to this humble scribe as a token of her esteem.

Elizabeth won her crown at the Miss America Coed (MAC) pageant held at the Dearborn Hyatt March 17-18. She will compete at the National Level of the Miss American Princess for 2012 on Nov. 19-24 at the Hilton resort of Walt Disney World. Princess Elizabeth is one of two representatives from Michigan.

Though it was her first pageant, Elizabeth said she wasn't nervous at all. (Her mother, Kristy Gerke, confides that it's more stressful for the parents, it seems). Elizabeth had seen some pageants on television, and since they looked enjoyable, she decided to participate.

Given the nod from the nascent beauty queen, Kristy began to investigate some pageants. She found good reviews about the MAC contest, and was heartened to find that they allowed only minimal cosmetic enhancement and was also a pageant that valued faith and family.

Competitors were judged based on performance in an evening-wear competition and an interview segment. A precocious young lady, the princess excelled in this last element. Elizabeth's question was about her brother, a young man she considers to be the coolest brother in the world.

As pageant royalty, Elizabeth was present at the Walden Park Piano Studios ribbon-cutting in Lake Orion March 23. She will preside at the Memorial Day parade in Dearborn and the Christmas parade in Oxford.

She also will be called on to aid participants at next year's MAC pageant and assist newcomers with registration.

MAC pageants have been held across the nation since 1984. Among their objectives is to encourage exceptional girls and young women to set high standards for their future. MAC seeks to help these bright youngsters mature into high-achieving, responsible citizens with a strong commitment to government and community.

Princess Elizabeth is a lovely vision in her green fingernail polish, sash, and tiara, and she spoke with confident cheer and a bright-eyed kindness.

Though her mother claims she's always been open and "chatty" with adults, Elizabeth has taken on even more self-assurance with this recent pageant experience.

Elizabeth encourages other young girls to step up to the pageant challenge. She says not to be scared because it is really a fun experience. Participants can choose from a variety of talents such as piano, voice, dance, hula, and baton.

A student of the Oxford Academy of Dance and Performing Arts, Elizabeth chose to exhibit her talent in dance.

Her majesty's next pageant will be for National Miss American Princess at Disney World, where she eagerly awaits a chance to visit Lego Land. When she grows up, she would like to be a mail carrier, because she likes giving presents (and receiving them too, she admits). For now, she awaits her mermaid-themed birthday on April 21, and the loss of her first baby tooth.

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