Esta página no está disponible en español.
Lawrence Welcomes Back Hometown Beauty Queen, Miss USA Susie Castillo
By PATRICIA CRONIN
April 26, 2003
Amid a sea of American flags and hundreds of cheering fans, Miss USA Susie Castillo rode through downtown Lawrence yesterday, smiling and waving to spectators who gathered to welcome her home for the first time since winning the coveted national crown.
"(I came) to see her. Just to see her," said Carivel Torres, 22, of Lawrence as she stood outside of City Hall waiting for the ticker tape parade to begin. "I feel great about it. She is Hispanic and is representing the USA."
Spectators crowded around the convertible yelling, "Susie, smile!" as they wound up disposable cameras and clicked photos of their hometown heroine. "It's exciting. Everybody is so proud of her," said Collette Demers, 41, of Methuen, who said her daughter had played soccer alongside Castillo while the two attended high school in Methuen. "(The night she won) everybody was calling the house and asking, `Are you watching?' "
The Bay State beauty began the day-long celebration of her homecoming by ringing the opening bell at the Boston Stock Exchange, and after the parade around Lawrence Common, received a key to the city from Mayor Michael Sullivan.
Castillo also received a flag from the Dominican Republic - her father is Dominican - and a plaque from the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, honoring her as a "Puerto Rican making history." Castillo is the second Miss USA of Puerto Rican descent.
"We're very excited for her," said Myles Burke, chief of staff for Mayor Sullivan who said he first encountered Castillo when she asked to help raise funds as Miss Massachusetts for the families of four boys who drowned in the Merrimack River late last year.
"She's a very humble, down to earth girl who has really done herself and her hometown proud. And I know she will be a terrific representative of the United States in the Miss Universe pagent," he said.
As she ascended the podium, Castillo held an American flag aloft to hundreds of cheers and camera flashes.
"If I can tell all of you one thing, it's to go to school, go to college. . ." she said to the children sitting around her.
As American-themed music played over the speakers, Castillo signed countless autographs for her young fans.
"(They) can do whatever their hearts aspire to do," she said. "(If they) follow their dreams and their heart, they will be rewarded."
"I've worked really hard to make my dreams come true," Castillo said. "And finally (it happened)."
Castillo was crowned Miss USA on March 24 in San Antionio, Texas. She is the second Miss Massachusetts and only the third ever Latina woman to earn the title. She will represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant in June.