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Caressa Cameron | Miss America pageant crowns years of work
Spotsylvania woman in Miss America Pageant

 Cameron (right), who will sing in the talent portion of Saturday's Miss America contest, sings at Remnant Church in Stafford.
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Date published: 1/26/2010


Ordinarily, this would be the Camerons' comfy Spotsylvania living room.

But a week before the Miss America Pageant, the space more closely resembles the frenzy and glitz of a fashion-show dressing room.

Draped over every available piece of furniture--the couch, an easy chair, an Ottoman--is an outfit with matching accessories.

Glittering gowns sway from a nearby rack, and the coffee table sparkles with matching earrings, bracelets, necklaces and hair clips.

Like ladies in waiting, Lavern Cameron and Brenda Maclin--the mother and aunt of Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron--scurry up and back between the living room and bathroom, their arms laden with dresses and shoes, their fingers ready to fasten or release buttons, hooks, snaps, buckles and zippers.

Through the middle of the scene glides Cameron, modeling one outfit after another before the watchful eyes of her family and Miss Virginia pageant officials.

The lithe 22-year-old has no fewer than 35 public appearances during the 10 days of events surrounding the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, and she needs an outfit for each one.

Packing light is simply not an option.

On a love seat sits Wendi Gruninger, the business manager for the Miss Virginia Pageant who's also in charge of Cameron's schedule. Each time Cameron waltzes down the runway--basically the space between the coffee table and the TV--Gruninger records each piece of the outfit on a list so Cameron will know what to wear for each event in Las Vegas.

For a gondola ride at The Venetian, it's a "black-ribboned wrappish two-piece pants suit" with a black rhinestone bracelet and black strappy heels.

For a fashion show at the mall, it's a turquoise and black top with a turquoise skirt, wide belt, fishnet hose and tall, stretchy boots.

For a more casual pageant rehearsal, it's a turquoise shirt and blue jeans.

For an appearance at a go-kart track, Cameron suggests a gray ruffled top with a pair of black jeans studded with rhinestones.

"You can't wear rhinestones to drive a go kart," observes Gruninger, who won the Miss Virginia preliminary swimsuit competition in 1994 wearing a lime green bathing suit--back when no one wore lime green.

"Why not?" asks Cameron, flashing her megawatt smile. "I can't think of anything you can't wear rhinestones to."

Rhinestones it is then.


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Parents Lavern and Jerome Cameron, older brother Brian and younger brother Nathan