Jillian Zucco's dream come true

By Tanner Harding | Sep 13, 2017
Courtesy of: Miss America Organization Jillian Zucco receiving an award at Miss America.

Friends from her gym, donning plastic tiaras, occupied a function room at Brew Fish in Marion. A message on the electronic sign outside of Old Rochester Regional wished her luck, noting that she was a 2011 alum. And at least two dozen loved ones cheered for her in multiple events in Atlantic City.

Jillian Zucco may not be Miss America, but her pageant run will not be soon forgotten in the tri-town.

Zucco, a 24-year-old Mattapoisett resident and this year's Miss Massachusetts, found herself on the national stage on Sunday, Sept. 10, after five successive years of competing for the title of Miss Massachusetts, including two separate runner-up finishes.

"We could not be more proud of our girl's performance on the Miss America stage this week," Zucco's mother, Kelly, wrote on Facebook. "Jillian sang her heart out, answered her on-stage question beautifully, and graced the stage with class and elegance..."

At the arrival ceremony in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Aug. 30, Zucco was named a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) finalist. The award, earmarked for a contestant who is studying a STEM-related field, was awarded on Sept. 7. Zucco, a registered nurse who plans to pursue graduate studies in nursing and earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in the future, won $5,000 in scholarship money as a top three finisher.

Additionally, she won $2,000 in scholarship money as a second runner-up for the Children’s Miracle Network’s “Miracle Maker” award for contestants who have raised the most for the Children’s Miracle Network. Zucco raised $25,000.

The live portion of the pageant, during which the top 15 finalists were announced, aired on ABC on Sept. 10. To determine those contestants, the 51 women competed in preliminary rounds on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8.

On Sept. 7, Zucco participated in the judges interview, evening wear competition and lifestyle and fitness division. The next day, she participated in the talent portion, during which she sang “The Impossible Dream” from the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha.

“My ‘Impossible Dream’ came true last night,” Zucco wrote on Facebook. “I sang on the Miss America stage. I was so happy I cried.”

The “Show Us Your Shoes” parade took place on the Atlantic City boardwalk on Sept. 9. The parade provides an opportunity for contestants to reveal their shoes, inspired by the state they hail from.

"My parade costume was inspired by Henry Longfellow's poem, called 'Paul Revere's Ride,' which includes the famous line, 'One, if by land, and two, if by sea,'" Zucco wrote on Facebook.

Zucco wore a colonial-inspired outfit, which she noted was provided to her by 2002 Miss Massachusetts Melanie Hannack. Her custom-designed stiletto heels were decked out in red, white and blue, the North Church, Paul Revere on his horse, and of course, a big, bedazzled, colonial shoe buckle.

Zucco's brother, Jonny, was her chaperone during the parade -- riding in the front seat of the red convertible as Miss Massachusetts beamed from the back seat.

Though Zucco was not one of the top 15 finalists on Sunday night, she was featured in a segment during the live show in which she described singing a World War II ballad at a retirement home, and a man who had been mute and catatonic began singing along to his wife.

On Sept. 11, Zucco shared a message on Facebook congratulating Cara Mund, Miss North Dakota, for winning the Miss America crown.

"I could not be more ecstatic that this woman is our new Miss America!! Cara Mund is such a joy," she wrote. "She is a brilliant graduate of Brown University. She is insanely talented. Just incredible!!"

Zucco's 2017 Miss Massachusetts title win was a relief, as she was in her final year of eligibility for the pageant.

"I had no idea whether I would win," she told Sippican Week after her victory. "The judges change every year. But I worked really hard, and I was so happy to win."

And her supportive community was thrilled to see her representing Massachusetts on the big stage.

Zucco competing in the evening wear portion of the Miss America preliminaries. (Courtesy of: Miss America Organization)
Jillian Zucco in the "Show Us Your Shoes" parade. (Courtesy of: Kelly Zucco/Facebook)
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