Two women with local ties to compete for Miss Florida
PLANT CITY - When the Miss Florida pageant gets under way this summer, two women with east Hillsborough roots will be among those competing for the crown. Victoria Garren, a 20-year-old Plant City resident, will vie for the title as Miss Orange County. Allison Martin, a 22-year-old former Dover resident, will compete as Miss St. Petersburg. Both women are thrilled to be in the pageant. “It’s a lot of fun and what better way to earn scholarship money for college,” said Garren, who won $500 in scholarships as Miss Orange County.“Just to be in the Miss Florida pageant is an honor,” Martin said. The pageant will be July 13-15 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. As title holder of the city that serves as the pageant’s venue, “It’s a little more pressure but it’s exciting at the same time,” Martin said. Both women, former high school cheerleaders, have competed in a number of pageants, sometimes against each other. Garren, the daughter of Jeff Garren and Kim and Jerry Williams, is a 2010 Plant City High School graduate and is a junior studying broadcasting and advertising at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. She has been a cheerleader at Florida Southern for three years and is captain of the squad. She also is producer and anchor of the Florida Southern’s sports network show, and plans to apply for an internship with the Tampa Bay Rays after she graduates in December. She hopes to work for the team as a broadcaster. Her titles include 2006 Miss Heart of Plant City’s Outstanding Teen, 2007 Miss Pinellas County Outstanding Teen, 2008 Miss St. Petersburg Outstanding Teen, 2009 Miss Largo’s Outstanding Teen and 2010 Miss Teen Orange County USA. She also was cover girl for Plant City High’s 2009 calendar and first maid in the 2011 Florida Strawberry Festival queen’s court. Unlike some other pageants, Miss Florida and the pageants leading up to it require contestants to have a platform — a charitable cause they support — and display a talent. In Garren’s case, her platform is support for the Ronald McDonald House, which gives temporary housing to families of hospitalized children. She’ll sing in the talent portion of the Miss Florida competition, although she hasn’t yet settled on the number she’ll sing. Martin, daughter of Jon and Sue Martin, is a 2008 Newsome High School graduate and has a bachelor’s in elementary education from the University of South Florida. The aspiring educator is currently a student in USF’s graduate program, majoring in educational leadership with a minor in leadership studies. She is a member of the USF Sundolls dance team. She didn’t start competing in pageants until she was 18, but her titles include 2009 Miss Bay Area, 2010 Miss Tampa, 2012 Miss Winter Park and most recently, Miss St. Petersburg. This will be her fourth Miss Florida pageant. She’ll perform a jazz dance, “We Both Reached for the Gun” from the musical “Chicago,” in the July pageant. Her platform focuses on encouraging youngsters to work hard in school. She has led drives to collect school supplies and gives inspirational talks in schools, teaching students that education is a key to success. The last woman from the Plant City area to wear the Miss Florida crown was Jackie Raulerson, a 2008 Durant High graduate who won the title in 2010.