Organizers call 2022 Miss Niles Scholarship Pageant a success

Published 8:26 am Wednesday, January 19, 2022

NILES — Donna Bradfield was all smiles after the 2022 Miss Niles Pageant Saturday evening at Niles High School.

The pageant chairwoman was happy to see the pageant’s triumphant return following a one-year COVID-induced hiatus.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way things turned out,” she said. “I want to thank everyone for helping to make this event possible.”

Due to the recent uptick in COVID cases, Bradfield said the decision to postpone or outright cancel the pageant went down to the wire.

“We were holding our breath,” she said. “We saw all kinds of kids getting sick and we were like ‘oh my gosh, are we gonna be able to have a pageant? What if three or four of them drop out right now?’”

Bradfield said the contestants took a COVID-19 test before the pageant to ensure everyone was healthy enough to participate.

“We didn’t want them potentially spreading it around everybody else,” she said. “Fortunately, everybody was negative, and so here we are. I was really happy that it worked out well because don’t think I could have waited.”

The theme of this year’s pageant was “Past, Present and Future.” The committee featured the iconic Ready Theatre in its theme by way of constructing the iconic theater’s marquee and front-facing facade as the centerpiece prop.

Opened in 1927, Ready Theatre was once one of the premier movie theaters in southwest Michigan. Purchased by Moore Family Pictures in the early 1980s, the building reopened in 1983 before closing its doors in January 2005.

MFP owner Scott Moore was on hand for the pageant and gave a short speech before performing a “ribbon-cutting” for the Ready Theatre prop.

Moore told the crowd that since its closure, the Ready Theatre experienced renovations and remodeling under the direction of former MFP project manager Joe Chabot, who passed away in 2014.

A 25-foot strip of property between the theater and the Four Flags Hotel building was purchased and a space originally set to house a bar area and restrooms was built there. Moore said that several factors in recent years, including Chabot’s death, the company’s acquisition and remodeling of JC Cinema in Battle Creek in 2017, flooding that damaged Wonderland Cinema in 2018 and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have put concrete plans for the Ready Theatre on the backburner.

That being said, Moore said the Ready Theatre has not seen its last show.

“We will be going back to work on the Ready Theatre,” he said. “It may not be like what you remember with the four screens but maybe as a one-screen house that will show special shows. We may even do some acoustic guitar player shows and maybe even some types of plays or something as well. Hopefully, in the future, we’ll get back to that vision. Thank you, Niles community, for your support.”

With renewed energy in the program, Bradfield believes that the future of Niles pageants is bright and hopes to deliver a bigger and better pageant next year.

“I don’t know if I can top it,” she said. “Somebody said I’ll find a way. It’s going to be a challenge every year, but I like a challenge, so bring it on. We’ll see how it goes.”