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Care center crowns queen

LAWRENCEVILLE - The oldest contestant will soon turn 92 years old. The youngest was 67.

This wasn't your typical pageant, though one contestant did provide the requisite "world peace" answer to an interview question.

The Gwinnett Extended Care Center was the site Thursday for the Eighth Annual Ms. GECC pageant, sponsored by the Gwinnett Medical Center Auxiliary. Five contestants vied for the tiara and the chance to represent GECC at the Ms. Georgia Nursing Home Pageant in Atlanta next month.

At the end of a night where there really were no losers, Esther Scroggs, 91, was crowned queen.

Family, friends and staff members packed the venue to witness the "Queens of the Masquerade Ball" and no one left disappointed. After months of preparation and planning, each woman looked her best. Jay Dennard, GMC's chief operating officer, emceed the pageant and posed the questions that were often the catalyst for witty one-liners.

Betty Ann Kalenack said her favorite things about life at the care center are its "home-like atmosphere" and camaraderie with her fellow residents and staff members.

For Scroggs it's that when she needs something, someone normally gets it for her.

"They're gonna get you for me, too," she told Dennard, tugging his sleeve and drawing laughter from the crowd.

Activities Director Rita Davis said the pageant not only provides a good time for contestants, but is a learning experience for the staff.

"While we're interviewing them we just find out so much about them that we wouldn't know otherwise," she said.

While some residents might not think they're cut out for the big stage, some feel right at home.

"They're just thrilled. They look so forward to it, them and their families," Davis said. "It's just another accomplishment in their life."

SideBar: Winners

· Ms. GECC 2009: Esther Scroggs, 91

· First Runner-Up: Annie Carter, 86

· Miss Congeniality: Helen Davis, 85

· Best Personality: Betty Ann Kalenack, 67

· Most Zest for Life: Caryl Cosmer, 80