While the newly crowned Miss New York, via Miss Brooklyn, may not actually be from the borough, she has planted some roots here and expressed gratitude for being allowed to represent Brooklyn.
The lovely brunette, Leigh-Taylor Smith, 22, who was crowned Miss Brooklyn last February, won the Miss New York crown in Long Island last week and now moves on to compete for Miss America in Las Vegas on Jan. 24.
“I left for Long Island knowing the importance of representing Brooklyn to its fullest potential. Now here I am, heading off to Miss America representing not only Brooklyn, but our state! I hope to make them proud,” said Smith in an email interview.
Smith said she still attends the Brooklyn Tabernacle Church on Smith Street, where she enjoys the “amazing choir.”
“The last time I was in Brooklyn was the Saturday before I left for Miss New York. My mom and I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and certainly a great way to head off to Miss New York as Miss Brooklyn,” said Smith.
Smith said she also attended the Michael Bolton seaside concert in Coney Island and that Borough President Marty Markowitz pulled her on stage and introduced her to those in attendance.
“I was able to say a few words and had the warmest reception. I was asked to sign autographs and take pictures. I couldn’t be more grateful for their support as a community,” she said.
Smith’s ascension to Miss New York was also a shot in the arm for next year’s Miss Brooklyn Pageant, according to Kimberly Thomas, executive director for the Miss Brooklyn Pageant.
“In the last couple of days we had a surge of interest from possible participants, and we’re confident we’ll have more girls from Brooklyn this year,” said Thomas.
Thomas, who has been running pageants since 2000, took up the ball last year in reviving the Miss Brooklyn pageant, which was last held in 1992.
However, after only 30 young women applied last year and only two followed through, Thomas opened up the contest to women from throughout the five boroughs.
“For next February’s contest the pageant is closed to only women that live, work or attend school in Brooklyn, and we’re committed to that,” said Thomas.
Thomas said in the meantime, Cherelle Gaines, the first runner-up to Smith, will be crowned the new Miss Brooklyn within the next 30 days. Gaines is a graduate of New York University and also lives in Manhattan.
Markowitz, forever the borough’s cheerleader, was ecstatic with Smith being crowned Miss New York.
“I congratulate Miss Brooklyn, Leigh-Taylor Smith, on winning the state pageant to represent New York in the Miss America competition—although she may not reside in Brooklyn yet, I have declared her an honorary Brooklynite who proudly carries our borough’s good name to national fame,” he said.
For more information on the next Miss Brooklyn pageant log onto www.brookl