Connecticut native Chaquanzha Stephenson was crowned Miss Dream Castle 2016 at the coronation held on Saturday, June 18 at the Royal Regency Hotel in Yonkers, New York. The 24-year-old winner who hails from Stamford, 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 7-day/6-night trip for two at Dream Castle Villa in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Before a fair-sized crowd, Stephenson, a Jamaican-American and one of the crowd favorites edged out another favorite Essence Henley, who was adjudged first runner. Rounding out the winners were 18-year old Perpetua Smith, second runner up, and 22-year old Veterinary Technology student Carles Griffith, 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, who 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
the Q & A section.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Salome, Tinga Stewart and The Delfonics Revue featuring Greg Hill, who 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.