Christmas pageant raises funds for lights

Michelle Seeber

Six-year-old Stephanne Chandler really wanted to win the 18th Annual Little Miss Merry Christmas Pageant held Friday night at the Cornerstone Building in downtown Portales after the light parade.
In fact, she wanted to win so badly that she and her mother baked cakes and pies, sought donations from 51 Portales businesses and held a raffle and a silent auction, raising about $2,542 — more than half the amount raised by all the candidates for the title.
“We baked pies, and we baked cakes, and everyone had to give us money for the cakes,” Stephanne said the day after the pageant.
The money she raised added to the dollars raised by the other six candidates totaled $4,217.14. The title of Little Miss Merry Christmas goes to the candidate that raises the most money to support the Portales Christmas Light Fund.
Stephanne was surprised to learn she had won, she said, because she was afraid she wouldn’t.
Her parents, Karen and Steve Chandler of Portales were pleased.
“I wouldn’t have traded that smile for anything,” Karen said of her daughter’s delight at hearing her name announced.
Stephanne’s title replaces that of Heaven Ruiz, daughter of Henry and Martha Ruiz, who reigned as Little Miss Merry Christmas 2002.
Other contestants in the pageant were Joni Yvette Sotelo, 5, daughter of Edel and Eva Sotelo; Hailey Nickels, 5, daughter of Monte and Michelle Nickels; Kori D’Nae Caywood, 4, daughter of Daniel and Jennie Caywood; Briana Renee Tarango, 10, daughter of Roy and Kim Tarango; Mireya Isabel Chavez, 4, daughter of Lizeth Chavez and Humberto Gomez: and Lena Espinoza, 5, daughter of Mark and Felicia Espinoza.