North Carolina-Maria Fletcher-January 31

North Carolina People, Places, and Things-January 31

I am the dad to five adult children. As they were growing up I attempted to remind them they were special and to implore them to learn something new. My goal was to do that daily.

In 2016 my goal is to learn something new daily on the people, places, and things that make North Carolina special.

This past week the University of North Carolina at Pembroke held its Miss UNC Pembroke Pageant on Thursday January 28, 2016. Details and bios on the participants in the Miss UNCP Pageant can be found below.

In past years the university pageant had a connection to the Miss America contest and Miss UNCP would be part of the Miss North Carolina event. I got wondering if a Miss North winner had every won the Miss America pageant.

I did know for a fact that UNCP graduates had been Miss North Carolina. One of those winners was Lorna McNeill Ricotta who was Miss North Carolina in 2000. Lorna was in fact the first American Indian to ever represent North Carolina in the pageant. Today she works at Fayetteville Tech.

2000 photo of Miss North Carolina – Lorna Ricotta

Miss North Carolina 2000

For the record there has only been one Miss North Carolina to ever win the title of Miss America. Her name was Maria Fletcher who was from Asheville NC. Maria’s parents were the founders of the Asheville-area Fletcher School of Dance and the Land of the Sky Civic Ballet.

A Miss America Preliminary Competition swimsuit winner, Maria, went on to become Miss America in 1962.

miss america 1962

Prior to competition, Maria was a Rockette at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

The Rockettes in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Recently, former Miss Americas were asked to recall an embarrassing moment they could share with our readers. In Maria’s case, she recalled wearing her Miss America gown (complete with hoop) on the Miss America Float at the Orange Bowl Parade.

Orange Bowl

Unbeknownst to her, the gown was on fire. A good Samaritan jumped on the float, and extinguished the blaze, saving both Maria and her gown–all before she realized there was a fire!


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