There’s a new Miss Norway in town.
Lauren Benson, a 21-year-old junior at Rutgers University, was crowned Miss Norway of Greater New York for 2015 on Saturday, March 28 after impressing judges with not just her grace and good looks but also her good will.
“The event was surprisingly well attended again,” lauded contest Co-Chairperson Arlene Rutuelo, adding that the pageant – sponsored by the Norwegian Immigration Association and open to young women between the ages of 16 and 24 of Norwegian descent – grows a bit each year. “Last year we had six girls, this year, we had 12.”
The Norwegian Christian Home, Rutuelo said, was packed full of friends and family for the 60th season, all of whom were impressed with the “incredibly high caliber” of girls.
“It was incredibly difficult for the judges to make a decision,” she said, “but I think everyone was very pleased with the choice.”
Benson, who cried tears of joy when she was crowned by last year’s Miss Norway, Jillian McDonald, was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Norway this summer, one she can’t wait to share with her father.
“I’m just so honored and blessed; it’s a dream come true,” said the communications major and sorority sister of Gamma Phi Beta. “My father has always, always wanted to go to Norway – his father was born there – and he’s never really had someone to share it with. Being able to bring my father is the best part – he was smiling ear to ear when I won.”
When asked what her heritage meant to her, Benson said it was so much more than that.
“It’s completely who I am; it’s my entire meaning,” said the New Jersey native. “Just being able to stand on stage with 11 other absolutely stunning girls – all of them such incredible, smart, beautiful women who all deserved to be up there – was a one-of-a-kind experience.”
Benson will be a guest of honor at Bay Ridge’s own Norwegian Day Parade (also known as the 17th of May Parade), held every year to commemorate the signing of the Norwegian Constitution, and will cruise down Third Avenue in a convertible, this year on Sunday, May 17.
New this year, the judges crowned a Miss Heritage of Greater New York, a title that went to 23-year-old Britt Henricksen from Roxbury, New York.
This year’s judges were Joyce Abrahamsen, activities director of the Norwegian Christian Home and Health Center; Brian Andersson, former commissioner of the New York City Department of Records; Amanda Bernsten, Miss Norway of Greater New York 2012; Captain Raymond Festino, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct; and John Quaglione, deputy chief of staff to State Senator Marty Golden.