INDIAN TRAIL – For 7-year-old Lillian Ortloff, it wasn’t about the pretty dresses, getting her makeup done or the attention. Entering the Miss Jr. Pre-Teen Charlotte/Greensboro contest was all about having fun.
“I’ve never been in (a pageant) and I wanted to try it,” Lillian said.
When Lillian’s mother, Marie, began telling friends about the pageant, they started making references to TLC’s Honey Boo Boo. But after looking up videos online, they realized Lillian wasn’t at all like the “Toddlers & Tiaras” star. Taking part in the competition isn’t about winning or anything like that, Lillian said; it’s about the time spent with family while preparing. “It just matters if I have fun,” she said.
And though winning might not be the family’s focus, they wouldn’t say no to taking home the crown. Part of that will depend on Lillian’s preparation. It also might depend on her two front teeth, which started to loosen recently. She lost her first tooth about a week ago, and could arrive on stage with a very different smile if she loses two more.
Before being accepted as a contestant for this weekend’s pageant, Lillian was interviewed by the Charlotte/Greensboro pageant coordinator and had to submit an application. She’ll compete in three categories – casual wear, formal wear and interview – for thousands of dollars in prizes and gifts.
Lillian attended training sessions provided by the pageant and practiced at home with her parents to prepare for her pageant debut. In her mom’s opinion, the formal wear part of the pageant will be the easiest for Lillian because she can “walk in heels better than mommy.”
“We’ve been practicing her walking, answering questions and that’s about it. We don’t want to stress about it too much. If she has fun, she has fun. If not, it was a good experience,” Marie Ortloff said.
Lillian said the formal wear won’t only be the easiest section of the pageant, but also the part she is looking forward to most. “(I’m looking forward to) the part where we get to dress up because I like getting dressed up,” she said.
Despite this being her first pageant, Lillian said she isn’t nervous at all, and according to her mom it’s because she “likes being in front of people and putting on a show in front of everyone.”
Lillian’s appearance at the pageant on Sunday, Dec. 16, won’t be her first time on the stage. For two years Lillian has danced with Miss Donna’s School of Dancing in Indian Trail and participated in their yearly recital. As with the pageant,
Lillian said she started dancing “because we get to do a lot of fun things.”
While this may be Lillian’s first pageant, her brother Dylan, who is 12 years old, participated in pageants when he was younger.
“My oldest son used to do the all-American boy and girl pageants, but that was like 10 years ago. They do it a lot different now,” Marie Ortloff said.
He isn’t involved in pageants anymore but still brags about the trophies he won during his time on the stage.
Lillian gained sponsorships from Charlotte Playset Pink, Pizza Palace in Indian Trail and Liberty GMC Buick to help defer pageant and travel costs. If she wins the Miss Jr. Pre-Teen Charlotte/Greensboro pageant, Lillian will represent the surrounding community at the national competition in Orlando, Fla., where she could win more than $30,000 in prizes.