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Dream come true!

By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Accent Editor

Football Hall of Fame QueenA childhood dream comes true!
Elissa Prazer, 19, of Carrollton began living out a childhood dream when she was crowned the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival Queen May 10 at the Canton Palace Theatre.  A 2011 graduate of Sandy Valley High School, she is the daughter of Tina Vogt of Carrollton and Tom Prazer of Canton.   

“I remember going to the parades and seeing the girls on the floats,” said Prazer.  “It was a childhood dream to grow up and ride on the float.”  As a college student, Prazer said, “Now I think it would be nice to be a positive role model to young girls, like the queen and court were for me.”

She competed in the Enshrinement Festival Queen Pageant in 2011, and decided to try again.  The process began, after submitting her application, with a five-minute interview with four judges in early April.  The field of 53 contestants had practice Monday and Wednesday before the practice to participate in a group dance number. 

The night of the event, contestants walked across the stage in evening wear while their biography was read.  The top 25 were chosen and they were required to speak on their platform issue.  Prazer’s platform encouraged people to donate blood.  She is very involved with the Red Cross at Ohio University in Athens, where she is a student. 

“I want everyone to be aware of how many people in Ohio and the United States need blood,” she said.  “And how important it is to be a donor.”

The top 15 were announced and once again, Prazer’s name was called.   The top 15 contestants are then required to answer a “fishbowl” question and then the queen and her court are selected. 

The emcee began announcing the six court members. “I felt very confident after my platform,” Prazer stated.  “As they were announcing court members, I was giving myself a pep talk, ‘They will call me next.  I gave it my all.” 

Prazer explained when they announced the six members of the court and she was not one of them, she told herself she was happy to have had the experience and it was ok (that she wasn’t named to the court). 

“Then my heart dropped,” she said when she was named queen.  “I was so excited, so happy.  It was unreal.”  She became so overwhelmed she said she cried.

Prazer and her court will have a busy summer filled with volunteering and attending community service events.  The group attended the Special Olympics in Canton the weekend following the pageant. 

Prazer and her court will reign over the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame and Enshrinement Festival, which marks its 49th anniversary of honoring the legends of professional football with the annual enshrinement of football players, coaches and contributors into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

The queen and her court will participate in the 19 diverse events over two weeks from July 20 to Aug. 6.  The Enshrinement Festival for the 2012 Class of Enshrinees is Aug. 4.   Prazer is looking forward to being a part of the festivities.  She has attended the Ribs Burn Off, Balloon Lift and, of course, watched the parade numerous times. 

“The other events, such as the Enshrinement and the fashion show, I consider prestigious events and am excited to be able to be a part of them,” Prazer said.

After the Enshrinement festivities are over, Prazer noted she may have a few things to attend to representing the Hall of Fame and Queen Prazer will meet with all the contestants in the 2013 pageant to answer any questions they have.

For the remainder of the school year and next fall, Prazer will continue studying at Ohio University where she has decided to major in Health Service Administration.

The members of the 2012 Pro Football Hall of Fame Court are:  Erin Fitch, Elizabeth Burton-Jones, Alyson Sliman, and Abigail Svetlak, all of Canton; Taylor Kress of Alliance and Tory Shephard of North Canton.  Contestants are judged on the basis of personality, poise, beauty, communication skills, academic achievement and service to community.

The 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame queen was also a Carroll County resident. Erin Shipbaugh of East Rochester is a 2006 graduate of Minerva High School and a 2009 graduate of Ohio University in Athens.  She is the daughter of Joe and Kim Shipbaugh.

For more information, visit www.profootballhof.com.

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