Firefighters suit up in dresses for Miss Carillon pageant

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Salisbury firefighters responded Monday afternoon to Carillon Assisted Living, but it wasn’t to put out a fire. It was to raise money for a scholarship.
Seven rookie firefighters braved embarrassment and donned dresses to benefit the Fallen Firefighters Fund and the Justin Monroe Scholarship, which is awarded to high school students who intend to pursue an EMS career.
This is the fourth year firefighters have participated in the womanless pageant/contest.
“It’s probably our favorite event,” said Marketing Director Suzanne Pearson Rose, who introduced the men.
The contest was an idea Carillon came up with prior to the firefighters losing two of their own in a mill fire in 2008.
Victor Isler, 40, and Justin Monroe, 19, both died in the line of duty while fighting a fire at Salisbury Millwork.
“We want people to remember these two,” Rose said.
It’s a good way to transition from the sadness of that day to raising money for a good cause, Rose said.
Each of the men — John Cannon, Chris Clark, Todd Holderfield, Kevin Burgess, Andrew Hardister, Cody Johnson and Chandler “C.J.” Beheler — wore borrowed dresses, makeup and whatever hair pieces they could find.
They even stuffed their dresses with balloons. The men came up with stage names like “Bubbles,” “Blondie,” “Ginger Spice” and “Luscious.”
From the moment they strutted through the doors of Carillon, the residents howled with laughter, applauded the men and awarded them prizes because as Rose said, “Anybody that does this needs a prize.”
The prizes the men received were donated by various community businesses.
“Hopefully we will surpass last year’s amount,” said Chris Kepley, public information officer for the fire department.
Last year, the fire department collected $200. Carillon resident raise and donate the money that is then given to the fund and scholarship.
“I 100 percent enjoyed it,” said Dorothy Hamby.
Martha Adkins said she “enjoyed every bit of it.”
Adkins was very vocal about which contestant she wanted to win, “Ginger Spice”.
Andrew Hardister, aka “Ginger Spice,” won the crowd over.
“I look around and all of them are good,” Adkins said.
Joyce Trexler said last year was just as good.
Trexler said it was great the men pushed embarrassment aside to dress up.
Contact Carillon Assisted Living for more information at 704-633-4666 to make a donation to the scholarship and fund.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.