LaPlace teen wins pageant title at Ponchatoula Strawberry Festival

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2008


Editor and Publisher

LAPLACE – Teen-agers aren’t usually too happy when parents force them to do something they would rather not.

But in this case, Leila Boudreaux of LaPlace was saying “thanks” to her mom.

Leila, 15, was given a push by her mom to enter the 2008 Strawberry Festival Pageant in Ponchatoula last weekend, even though she admits she really didn’t want to.

“I’ve thought about entering pageants before, but I was always too nervous,” she said. “Then I had the director of this pageant ask me to enter, but I was still too nervous and was only talking all week with my mom about it. The next thing you know, my mom said she had turned in the money and then I had to do it.”

But Leila wasn’t too unhappy with the results since she entered the pageant on Sunday in Ponchatoula, and was named the 2008 Strawberry Festival Queen. She also won the individual award for “Prettiest Hair.”

“I’m still kind of shocked,” she said. “All week long leading up to it I kept thinking I had maybe a 5 percent chance of winning. I really never thought I could win.”

    The pageant had seven girls entered, and the contestants only had to wear an evening gown, then walk on stage, introduce themselves, and tell a little about themselves.

   “I’m still surprised to have won, but I had some people say they thought I looked very natural up there, so maybe that’s why I won,”

   A sophomore at St. Charles Catholic, Leila is  quite active at  school, where she is an excellent student with a 3.84 GPA, while remaining very active by competing in track, on the swim team, taking all-honors classes, and being a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

The chance meeting with the director of the pageant just happened to occur since Leila was at her nanny’s a couple of weeks before, where her nanny has a hair salon in Ponchatoula. The pageant director was at the salon, saw Leila, and invited her to enter.

She was even more surprised to win, since the ending to the Strawberry Festival Pageant is a little different than some. Once all the competition is over, the contestants go out in the audience and take a seat. From there, each winner is called up. Even as they got to the first runnerup, there were a handful of other girls who might have been called as the queen.

“I think that is what really shocked me,” she said. “It wasn’t like I was down to the final two of something. I knew it was me and a few other girls, and then they called my name. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’”

She will participate in all aspects of the Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula in April 11-13, from riding in the parade to going to many different events to represent the pageant as their new queen. As for moving on to higher pageants, Leila said it wasn’t out of the question.

“I can’t enter anything else for this year,” she said. “But once I pass on this crown, maybe so.”

Leila is the daughter of Michael and Linda Boudreaux of LaPlace.