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Little Miss And Mister Titles Are Won By Ariah Sayen And Akol Villareal

By Vida Volkert

HOLLYWOOD - Amid the applause and encouragement of a multitude of parents, children dressed in colorful and traditional Seminole regalia competed for the title of Little Miss and Mister Seminole, Feb. 11, at the Tribal Fair in Hollywood.

Although it was a close contest and the judges had a rough time deciding the outcome, in the end five year-old youngsters Ariah Sayen and Akol M. Villareal were crowned to represent the Tribe as Little Miss and Mister Seminole.

Ariah resides in Hollywood with her mother, Francine Sayen. Akol resides on the Big Cypress Reservation with his mother Doreen Cypress and his father Brian Billie, and is a kindergarten student at Ahfachkee Elementary School.

"Ever since Ariah's name was called by the judges, my heart has been racing full time," said Ariah's uncle, Anthony Maus after his niece was crowned Little Miss Seminole.

This year the pageant took place at the Laura Mae Osceola stadium, which is located behind the Okalee Museum. Just like last year's event, it was held on the first day of the Tribal Fair.

The event was coordinated by the Princess Committee. The pageant committee for this event was comprised of Ginger Tucker Tiger, 1980 Miss Seminole Princess, Theresa Boromei, 1985 and 1987 Junior Miss Seminole Princess and 1989 Miss Seminole Princess, and Mary Ella Gercak, the current Miss Seminole Princess.

Big Cypress cattle owner and the Tribe's poet laureate Moses Jumper Jr. was the master of ceremonies for the event. The record 45 children participants were asked simple questions, such as 'what is your favorite color or food?,' and 'what would you like to be when you grow up?'

Although some children stayed static with stage fright in front of the microphone, others answered with great attitude and enormous self-confidence.

"When I grew up, I would like to be chief," four year-old David Gonzalez, firmly answered, causing a loud laugh from the audience.

But the judges not only based their decisions on the charismatic personalities of the participants, but also on the authenticity of the regalia the youngsters wore.

"We liked them all and selecting two from the group was the most difficult decision we had to make," said Susan Gillis, one of the judges.

Gillis, curator of collections at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, also said that judges chose the two children whose outfit and personality combined to capture the spirit of the past.

The participants, who ranged in age from three to five, were as follows:

Brianna Skye Nunez, Destiny Jade Nunez, Sheila Jones, Minnie Starr Osceola, Colby Dione Herrera, Audrey B. Osceola, Ragan Cypress Osceola, Janet Smith, Danni Jae Tommie, Jaide Whitney Micco, Tiffany Ann Baker, Darian C.P. Osceola, Chassidy Harjochee, Desiree Lynn Billie, Erena Desire Billie, Jaryaca Brooke Baker, Kiylier Maryah Baker, Maleah Lynn Isaac and Kristen Billie.

Stevie Brantley, Kristy Johns, Amelia Nunez, Alanis Emilee Bowers, Marissa Osceola, Tianna J. Young, Lois Billie, Ariah Sayen, Brittahy Leah Cox, David Jaime Gonazalez, Ty Sam Huff, Marshall Tommie, Luis A. Escobar, Taylor H. Battiest, Brandtley Evin Osceola, Catlen Braid Tommie, Darwin R. Cypress, Karlito Wargolet, Phillip Jones, Tucomah Blaine Robbins, Konrad Keko Jones, Trevor Max Baer Cypress, Darren Jim, Akol M. Villareal, Ricky Joe Osceola, and Adahma Sirota.

The two youngsters will serve for a year.

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