Midtown Raleigh News

July 7, 2014

Midtown Muse: Following up on a few things

Our columnist revisits two stories from early 2014.

As Junior Miss North Carolina Daya Durham prepares to crown a new state queen next month, she’s still giving away all she’s gotten in the pageant world – from the glitz-n-glam to the poise and confidence - to prepare others for crowns of their own.

That’s one reason she and her mom, Pamela Williams, hosted the Memorial Day Pageant in May.

It’s the same reason they’re at it again. This time, sticking with a theme to honor our troops, they’re hosts of the Little Miss and Teen Miss of Wake County Miss Patriotic Pageant scheduled for Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. at the National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters Auditorium off Blue Ridge Road.

On July 12, though, Daya and Williams will debut Pam and Daya Modeling and Consulting Services for Beginners. It’s an offshoot of a service they offered for the first pageant to help those new to pageants navigate the ins and outs of competition with training and coaching from someone who’s been there.

Just like before, the Miss Patriotic Pageant is a preliminary pageant to the Junior Miss and Teen Miss North Carolina state pageant. Open to contestants aged infant to 18, and it’s designed to honor past and present troops with music, speakers, performances and pageant highlights set to a patriotic theme.

“A lot of the people in the first pageant were beginners, and they found out they really want to do more pageants,” Williams said. “You can’t just do one pageant and ready to go to State competition.

“We’re here to help them get prepared to go to State; to coach them, teach them how to model and talk to them about how to get where they want to go in pageants.”

All pageant proceeds go to two charities: Women Veterans Support Services, Inc., an advocacy and referral agency for women veterans in Durham, Orange, and Wake counties; and to Camp Corral, a summer camp for children ages 8-15 of military women and men who have been injured or killed protecting our country.

There were 17 contestants in the Memorial Day Pageant. Although the goal was 40 contestants, Williams said, “It was perfect. Everything moved the way it was supposed to, so we’re pretty happy.”

Each charity received $500, she said.

Chavis Park on National Register Study List

By now, you know the Raleigh City Council on May 20 approved the revised master plan for John Chavis Memorial Park, a 28.87-acre community park built in 1937 and still known as the only park open to black people across the eastern seaboard during Jim Crow-era racial segregation.

Well, there’s more.

On June 12, the National Register Advisory Committee of the NC State Historic Preservation Office agreed to add Chavis Park to the National Register Study List. That’s a vote of support for the City and the Raleigh Historic Development Commission to move forward and submit a National Register of Historic Places application.

Because listing on the National Register entitles historic places to state dollars for environmental protection and improvements, it could mean “an infusion of resources that will hopefully bring Chavis Park back to the glory days we remember and bring back some of the historic character of the park,” said Lonnette Williams, a mainstay in the East Raleigh-South Park neighborhood surrounding the park which was listed on the National Register in 1991.

There are more than 85,000 historic buildings, structures, sites, objects and districts across the United States listed in the National Register. Since its first nominations submitted in 1969, North Carolina has about 2,780 National Register listings, recently averaging 50 new nominations per year. About 99 percent of all nominations in the state are successful.

The state’s listings reflect our experience, and vary from 10,000-year-old archaeological sites to the 1953 Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds. There are only three cultural properties designated in the state.

And Chavis Park is a strong contender, said Williams, who has fought to preserve the park for its historical significance and served on the community leadership team that help draft the park’s new master plan.

Aside from its historical significance to African-Americans when it comes to recreation, Chavis also was home to black soldiers who served during World War II. They and their families lived in what was known as the Veteran’s Annex, which was where the Chavis Community Center sits now. Also, Williams said, the park maintains many originals, including stone work, the Mother’s War Bench, picnic shelters and carousel housing. The original carousel is there, too, albeit in new housing.

“The history of that park is phenomenal,” Williams said. “That’s why we have fought so hard for this kind of preservation of that park.”

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