Last week, Olivia Culpo visited Rhode Island. If you don’t know her by name, then perhaps you know her by title; Culpo is the 2012 Miss USA.
The Cranston native won the Miss Rhode Island pageant in September, and then took the title of Miss USA in June. She was the first Rhode Islander to ever be crowned Miss USA.
So it’s no wonder Rhode Island pulled out all the stops for her homecoming last week. Culpo was featured in the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, on television shows and even received keys to Johnston and Cranston.
Park Avenue was shut down on Friday to make room for a celebration held in front of Cranston City Hall, where Culpo was presented with roses, a key to the city and a tree in her honor. The elementary and high school bands played, dignitaries gave speeches and people gathered to catch a glimpse of her.
Whenever someone gets bathed in limelight, there are those that are bound to ask, “What’s all the fuss about?”
Recently, pageants have been getting a bad reputation. Shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras” cast a negative light on the competitions, which some say promote the wrong ideals.
And that’s why Culpo is so refreshing. A natural beauty, Culpo possesses poise, eloquence and grace. She’s the girl next door who knows what to say and how to say it. It was her answer to a question about transgender pageant contestants that some speculate won her the crown.
In person, her presence is magnetizing, and her homecoming was evidence of that.
On Friday morning, youngsters sat captivated while Culpo read “The Giving Tree.” When she was finished, she encouraged all of them to give and share with their friends later that day. Then she said she would give all of them something: an autograph. The kids lined up and patiently waited their turn, and the adults in the room were just as eager and anxious to get closer to Culpo. Even members of the media turned their cameras around to get photos of themselves with the newly-crowned Miss USA.
Sure, Culpo is a celebrity now, but her roots in Rhode Island run deep, and that’s what makes her real.
Her family, a humble bunch that shares her good manners and equally good looks, are proud of Culpo’s success. Her mom, Susan, a Cranston native, said it’s thrilling to have her daughter, now wearing the Miss USA sash, back in her hometown to visit. Even her siblings are supportive and excited for their sister’s nearly-overnight fame.
As people cheered, applauded and struggled to muster up the courage to ask for a photo or autograph, it’s hard to imagine that Culpo was once just another Cranstonian.
But why shouldn’t people admire her now? She’s a great example of how the right combination of hard work, class and intelligence can get you far.
So what’s wrong with making a fuss about that?