Meeting Miss Florida

As she stood onstage, anxiously grasping her friend’s hands in hers, Kristina Janolo knew that this would be her last chance at a dream she’d held close for nearly 10 years. As she heard the other woman’s name called, the reality rushed over her — she was Miss Florida.

“I got weak in the knees, and I thought I was going to topple over,” Janolo said.

Janolo, 24, a senior marketing major at the University of Central Florida, competed as Miss Winter Park to win the Miss Florida crown on July 9.

This win was more meaningful, Janolo said, because it was her last opportunity to compete for the crown and for the chance to be Miss America, a dream she’s held since 15. Next year, she would have been too old to compete.

“I was so happy to see her dream come true,” Mom Lorna Janolo said. “It was really a sense of fulfillment.”

Always a girlie girl, the Kissimmee resident was a good fit for the pageant world. But she didn’t consider it until she got a card in the mail advertising a local pageant when she was 15. “It started on a fluke,” Lorna said.

On her first try, she became Miss Florida Junior Teen. “I got bit by the bug,” Janolo said.

But it wasn’t always an easy journey — she’d spent years competing in local pageants before vying for the elusive Miss Florida title.

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