Your new Miss South Carolina is Lanie Hudson.
Hudson, of Spartanburg, competed as Miss Anderson, winning in a sleek and unique white two-piece gown. The 23-year-old Clemson University student was also a finalist for the Quality of Life award, which recognizes outstanding community service.
Hope Harvard, Miss Greater Easley Teen, won the Miss South Carolina Teen crown Friday night. Harvard, 16, won preliminary awards for an en pointe character dance to "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from "Mary Poppins" and evening wear in the three nights leading up to the Teen division finals.
But while Hudson upgrades her crown and sash and begins preparation for the Miss America pageant, she's also starting a full-time job.
"The public sees the pageantry of what the pageant is about, but it's so much more than that," Executive Director Ashley Byrd said. "It's the hours and regimen that they're on day in and day out. I don't even know how difficult the job is."
Being Miss South Carolina means taking a year off school to travel the state promoting Children's Miracle Network hospitals and advocating for causes the titleholder chooses - Hudson advocates for organ and tissue donation.
"It's a year of service," said Brooke Mosteller, who passed on the Miss South Carolina crown to Hudson on Saturday night. "The crown means something bigger than yourself."
Mosteller, a Mount Pleasant native, dedicated much of her time as Miss South Carolina to helping students across the state apply for college and advocating for a ban on texting while driving state-wide. By the end of her reign, more than 40,000 high school seniors had applied to college through Mosteller's College Application Day program and the texting ban had been signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley.
"A lot of people think pageant girls are just there to be pretty, but we get out into the community and service is what we do," said Sophie LaBelle, who competed as Miss North Charleston.
LaBelle, a Charleston Southern University student, does service work focused on kids' fitness throughout the Charleston area. Before the Miss South Carolina pageant, LaBelle threw herself into the service and competition preparation that makes some local titles a full-time commitment.
"A lot of people think it's just a walk in the park, but it's completely not," LaBelle said. "It's not just looking the part. You have to walk the walk and talk the talk."
Miss Boiling Springs Lauren Cabaniss, who finished as first runner-up to Hudson, agrees. Cabaniss spent the past four years and four years as a teen competing in Miss South Carolina Organization pageants.
"Even at the local level, if you do it right and give it 100 percent, it's a full time job," Cabaniss said.
Cabaniss, who owns and operates a dance studio in Boiling Springs, works with charities like the Boys and Girls Club to engage at-risk youth in the arts and science. Leading up to Miss South Carolina, she worked with trainers for fitness and modeling and with Miss America 1991 Marjorie Vincent to prepare for the interview portion of competition.
"You know that saying 'It takes a village to raise a child'?" Cabaniss said. "It takes an even bigger village to groom a pageant girl."
Hudson will have that village for the 9 weeks between her crowning and the beginning of Miss America competition in Atlantic City, N.J. Miss South Carolina typically has separate coaches for each phase of competition - talent, swimsuit, interview, evening wear and on-stage question - as well as stylists and a business manager.
A year as Miss South Carolina is a whirlwind, moving quickly and unpredictably. Mosteller has had days where she's driven around the state for a total of eight hours, and has gone from a Funeral Directors' Association event ending at midnight to an elementary school appearance at 7:30 a.m.
"There is no 'typical' in the life of Miss South Carolina," Mosteller said.
When asked before Saturday's crowning what her successor should keep in mind, Mosteller said it was important to try to control that whirlwind while doing the most you can with your title.
"It's only one year, and time goes by so quickly. Use it the best way that you can," Mosteller said. "Remember the power of sparkle. There is a lot of power in it."
Reach Amanda Coyne at 937-5592 or on Twitter at @AmandaCCoyne
Miss Anderson Lanie Hudson was crowned by Mount Pleasantís Brooke Mosteller as the 2014 Miss South Carolina on Saturday night in Columbia.×
Miss South Carolina 2013 Brooke Mosteller turned over her crown to Miss Anderson, Lanie Hudson, on Saturday night in Columbia.×
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