Jamaican American Chaquanzha Stephenson was crowned Miss Dream Castle 2016 at the coronation held last Saturday at the Royal Regency Hotel in Yonkers
The 24-year-old beauty, who resides in Stamford, Conn., beat out a strong field of eight contestants to take the crown, $1,500 cash and a host of other prizes, including an all-expense paid seven-day / six-night trip for two at Dream Castle Villa in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Before a fair-sized crowd, Stephenson edged out another favorite, Essence Henley, who was adjudged first runner-up. Perpetua Smith, 18, was second runner-up, and 22-year-old veterinary technology student Carles Griffith, was third runner-up.
Stephenson currently works in Human Resources and believes God’s divine plan for her is to serve the community at large with a special focus on youth.
She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a dual degree in Political Science and Justice Studies. Chaquanzha is working on building her non-profit, Don’t Oppress People, Educate! (DOPE) Inc., with the hope of empowering future generations.
Anaya Williams, daughter of pageant organizer Gwendolyn Nicks-James, opened the show with a creditable performance of Adele’s “Hello” before MC Barry G introduced the contestants.
They made their first appearance in black swimwear and a purple wrap performing to the 1986 single by Prince “Kiss,” as a tribute to the late entertainer.
Following the opening group number, the contestants returned for the swimwear competition. Contestants were also judged on smile, talent, evening gown, and question and answer.
Alexis Patterson of the Bronx was voted Miss Congeniality; while Shantenique Bell won the prize for Most Tickets Sold.
Salome, Tinga Stewart and The Delfonics Revue featuring Greg Hill serenaded the contestants.
This year, the contestants wore an exquisite array of evening gowns courtesy of D’Marsh Couture and EN BLANC Couture Boutique.
The Miss Dream Castle Pageant, which is open to women, age 17-26, is the brainchild of Gwendolyn Nicks-James, owner of Dream Castle Villa in Montego Bay. This year’s event was co-produced by Glenroy March, chief creative officer of House of D’Marsh.