MICHIGAN CITY — According to his mother, 22-month-old Jameson Hood has the best of both worlds as he competes in the Sunburst Beauty Pageant's International Finals this weekend.
After winning the regional competition in Mishawaka last year, and the state competition in May in Indianapolis, the young Michigan City resident took to the stage on Friday and Saturday at the international level, where winners will be announced Sunday.
"He's really excited," Ra’Shana Hood said of her son as they prepared to leave for Atlanta on Thursday.
"He knows it's a competition, but when he gets up there on the stage he just has a good time and enjoys himself. He has the best of both worlds."
Jameson, Hood and her parents were driving down to the competition, which included competition in swimwear, patriotic wear and casual wear on Friday; and modeling, formal wear and an up-close appraisal on Saturday, mom said.
"They are first judged on how they look, and how coordinated the outfits are," Hood said.
"This pageant is much bigger so everyone is upping their game. The outfits get very extravagant as everyone definitely goes all out, especially with the patriotic wear."
She said "We get him coordinated, and then the outfits are tailored for him ... and later we might do some of the alterations ourselves.
"I can't wait to see him up there," she said. "He's very cute and always a well-dressed boy."
She said the modeling event is where her son really shines.
"For the model search he will take the mic and talk a little. He's very smart and loves to talk, so he does pretty good with that part of it."
At the regional and state levels, he also played drums, but there is no talent competition at this level, Hood said. "It's all him."
Jameson "enjoys the pageants a lot,” she said. “He did his first Sunburst pageant at 13 months old and was crowned first place in all categories for his division, 0-23 months.”
Sunburst Beauty was created by Theresa Spooner, a Florida native, whose goal was to make child pageants more enjoyable for contestants and their families.
She coached her own daughters in competitions, but found some undesirable aspects, such as lack of organization, not following schedules, not delivering prizes, or just “chaos.”
With Sunburst, she aims to “accent the positives and eliminate the negatives," she said. "I vowed that the only complaint one could have after competing would be, ‘I did not win’.”
The mission, according to Spooner, is to “create an environment where our contestants can grow, mature, develop, and exhibit their talents, personalities, interpersonal skills, and sportsmanship; providing opportunity and rewards that will further enhance their lives and provide direction as they pursue their ambitions.”
Contestants, she said, "have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, CPAs, business entrepreneurs, engineers, actors, singers, dancers, musicians, and many other success stories ... We are extremely proud of not only who our contestants are but the outstanding folks they have become.”
Does Jameson have what it takes to win the $1,000 division prize, or $10,000 grand prize?
"Oh, he definitely has a good chance," Hood said. "The Indiana state coordinator said he has a good shot at winning. He has the smarts and the personality to do very well. He surprises me every day."