Miss Gwinnett County crowned

LAWRENCEVILLE - Twenty-year-old Caitlin Andrews was crowned Miss Gwinnett County 2006 Saturday night at the 29th annual Miss Gwinnett County Scholarship Pageant.

She succeeds 2005 Miss Gwinnett County Erina Patterson, who was also second runner-up in the 2005 Miss Georgia Pageant.

The $2,500 scholarship comes along with the title of Miss Gwinnett County

Andrews, who celebrated her birthday on Friday, said winning the competition was an unexpected belated birthday present.

"I am just absolutely shocked," said the blonde pageant winner, who has been involved with beauty pageants since her junior year of high school. "It's such an honor to be representing the place that I'm from.

"It's also really cool because Erina crowned me a couple of years ago when I was Miss Teen Atlanta, and now she's crowning me again, which is amazing. It's like a dream come true."

Andrews, a music education major at Newberry College in South Carolina, will go on to compete in the forthcoming 2006 Miss Georgia Pageant.

Andrews performed an opera song in the talent competition, which she won and received a $300 scholarship. She also won the evening gown competition for a $150 scholarship and the interview competition for a $300 cash prize.

Her platform is "Strong Bodies, Strong Spirits."

Patterson hopes Andrews gets as much out of the crown as she has the last year.

"Everything was just a blast," she said. "It really is like a family."

The first runner-up was Kimberly Gittings, who also won the swimsuit competition. First runner-up receives a $1,200 scholarship.

Gittings, 18, a senior at Parkview High School, used words like honored and elated, but her own words were much more effective in describing her feelings.

"I made it. I can't believe I did it," she said with a smile. "But probably my friends are pretty much saying, 'Girl, I know you could do it.'"

Gittings is also the former Miss Teen Gwinnett.

Katlin Reque, 18, was second runner-up and received an $800 scholarship, and Ashley Gholanhosseini, 21, was third runner-up and received a $600 scholarship.

The other six contestants were Sarah Memar, 19; Mathilda Adeosun, 23; Loren Woodard, 19; Erica Leon, 18; Latoya Cooper, 23; and Courtney Piedrahita, 19.