DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) – June 23, 2022…13 years ago, Walter Hill took the stage at Samford University and produced his first Miss Alabama State Pageant — as it was known then.
From the start, his enthusiasm and sheer excitement ignited everyone involved, from the contestants to the backstage team. The rehearsals were electric, the candidates learning their place to the managers and directors taking their bearings. Would everything be ready for opening night? Would the crowd be excited? Nobody knew what to expect… But it was 7 p.m. Wednesday night and the curtain rose and the audience burst into applause—he had it—his first opening night – hit! And there it began.
So what would this Centennial show be? How has he been able to surpass these last 12 years?
“How exciting to get the call from Walter Hill, the ‘main event’ producer, asking me to host,” said Tammy Little Haynes, Miss Alabama 1984. “It’s such an honor because there are many other Miss Alabama’ who would also consider this an honor and would be thrilled to have received this call, especially in this centennial year!I know how hard Walter works every year, but this one will be over the top and I know he worked longer and harder than usual to make it grand for this really special occasion,” she continued.
“I will be the host of the Miss Alabama pageant on Friday night. I am a product of that system because that is where I developed my talent and skills to be successful as a performer and spokesperson. gave precious friendships and memories that I simply cannot put a price on. I give glory to God for my talent in singing. I am grateful that my parents instilled in me the qualities of showing compassion towards others. others and to have a servant’s heart. I’m so excited to see what Walter has prepared!”
“It’s been very special to plan this year’s contest,” said Walter Hill, who calls Dothan his hometown. “There was no way to involve every former Miss Alabama who could attend, but we will feature them all on stage on the final night. Throughout the four nights, about 20 former Miss Alabama will be involved from somehow on the show,” he continued. “It has been great communicating with them over the past few months as we plan. My wife, Melanie, and I have made so many friends over the years. Even though we can follow social media, it’s more fun to see them in person at least once a year. Some of them are coming back for the first time in a long time because they live further away now,” he said.
“That call from Walter!” How exciting,” said Teresa Cheatham Crosby, Miss Alabama 1978. “I can’t imagine how much he has planned for this centennial pageant,” she said. “I am especially honored to perform my talent as Miss Alabama/Miss America for the Saturday night show. I was crowned Miss Alabama 44 years ago and gained talent every time I sang this piece of music. After I competed and got home to Alabama, I retired my piece and haven’t sung it again except for very special occasions. Saturday night I’ll release the song one last time and I’ll give everything I have to my Miss Alabama family,” she continued. “I am privileged that Walter has asked me to entertain for this centenary competition with this elite group of women, who have used the power of the crown to touch lives, improve the lives around them and serve wherever they have been, with dignity and honor. I am grateful to the Miss Alabama organization and especially to God for giving me the opportunity to be Miss Alabama and for making THE difference in my life,” concluded Crosby.
“Walter really sets the bar for state competitions,” said Anna Laura Bryan Strider Miss Alabama 2012. “His concepts are fantastic and he’s built a fabulous team to help bring his vision to life every year. I remember sitting in rehearsal for the 2012 pageant and watching the lead singer, most of whom were former Miss Alabama, practice,” she continued. “I remember thinking, if I don’t don’t win Miss Alabama, maybe I’ll get lucky and Walter will ask me to be one of the featured artists. Little did I know I was going to win Miss Alabama that year (on my fourth try!) and the following year Walter would make the competition a solo show just for me! It’s my 10th birthday and I’m kicking off Thursday night’s preliminary competition with the national anthem. It’s always a pleasure to come back as an alumni at any time, but sharing my talent for the 100th anniversary celebration in conjunction with mine is a looping moment and it’s incredibly special. Thank you, Walter, for making it so! “said Strider.
“I also got THE CALL,” said Jamie Langley Henderson, Miss Alabama 2007. “When I looked on my phone and saw it was Walter, I took a deep breath and I was hoping it was to ask me to be part of one of his amazing shows!And it was!!I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to be part of such an amazing state organization that helped shape me into the successful, forward-thinking, confident woman I am today,” she continued. “Each year, I see fulfillment in so many of the participants just as I have witnessed “a remarkable metamorphosis in myself. 100 years of strength and growth…I look forward to seeing more spectacular women emerging from this remarkable legacy for years to come,” Henderson concluded.
“There is nothing more electric than the competition on the final night of the Miss Alabama pageant led by Walter Hill,” said Alison McCreary Gengelbach, Miss Alabama 1996. “What a joy it is for me to witness the culmination of hard work, practice and dedication from every participant. It is impressive. This year, as we celebrate the 100th anniversary, I am especially grateful to help honor an institution that has shaped my life and the lives of so many over the past 100 years. Thank you, Walter, for giving me this opportunity,” Gengelbach continued. “Honestly, I still can’t believe I’m the host of a Miss Alabama pageant preliminary night,” said 2018 Miss Alabama Callie Walker.
“The Miss Alabama Production is unlike any other, and I think that’s because Walter Hill puts so much love into this program. I especially love that he always invites the former Miss Alabama back for making every Miss Alabama week even more special. I look forward to being a part of the show this year as we crown a new sister at the 100th anniversary celebration,” Walker continued.
“It is a tremendous honor to be one of the Miss Alabama chosen to participate in this year’s pageant celebrating 100 years of our incredible Miss Alabama organization,” said Melinda Toole Gunter, Miss Alabama 2006.
“As a member of the public, I have been in awe of the shows Walter Hill has produced year after year, keeping in mind the current Miss Alabama and the incredible contestants. He has such a talent for showcasing the unique potential of our organization,” she said. “It is my pleasure to sing ‘God Bless America’ to celebrate the fast approaching 4th of July and to shine a light on this integral part of the Miss America pageant. May we all remember the blessing of celebrating the many freedoms we have in our great country. I’m so proud to be an American and I’m proud to celebrate all the wonderful characteristics of the Miss Alabama and Miss America organizations,” Gunter said.
“I’m extremely honored to be back at Miss Alabama as a performer because Walter Hill, the producer, always does an amazing job with the show and I’m grateful he asked me to be a part of a year so festive,” said Tiara Pennington, Miss Alabama 2019 and 2020. “The Miss Alabama show wouldn’t be the same without her expertise and the way she makes pageant week a memorable event not just for the audience but for everyone involved! On the last evening of the 100th anniversary, I will perform the national anthem. I’ve always had a passion for performing and remember being a little girl in the audience awestruck by the entertainment on the Miss Alabama stage. As I prepare to start law school, my thoughts that night will be on all the little girls sitting in the audience and their dreams of one day being on the Miss Alabama stage, just like me— maybe we’ll all come back to see them on our next anniversary! Pennington concluded.
“It’s a family reunion – our pageant family reunion, and we can’t wait!” Walter said.
To celebrate the coronation of the new Miss Alabama and the start of the next generation, tickets for the state pageant June 29-July 2 at the Wright Center at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama can be purchased by calling Miss Alabama’s office at 205-871-6276.
Copyright 2022 WTVY. All rights reserved.
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