ORLANDO – Florence Henderson may have been the host of the Mrs. World Pageant in past years, but until today, there was one other honor she hadn’t been able to claim.
Until this afternoon, she didn’t have a key to the city of Orlando.
All that changed when Henderson, the actress perhaps best known as Carol Brady on the 1970s hit sitcom “The Brady Bunch,” stood next to Mayor Buddy Dyer in City Hall for a welcoming ceremony for the Mrs. World Pageant, which will be held next week in the city.
“We’re very proud to have Florence here today in the city of Orlando, to give her the keys to the city,” Dyer said, as he and Henderson stood in front of the contestants taking part in the competition that will be held at Westgate Resorts.
He handed the gold key to Henderson, who said “I really appreciate that. Wow, I got a key to the city of Orlando. Does this give me the key to the mansion?”
“No, to the mayor’s office,” Dyer joked.
This afternoon, Dyer joined Henderson and David Siegel, president and CEO of Westgate Resorts, in welcoming delegates from across the globe to the City of Orlando for the 2011 Mrs. World Pageant hosted by Westgate Resorts. Henderson noted that she had hosted the pageant many times in the past, but this was the first time the competition had come to Orlando.
“We’re just delighted to be here in this beautiful city,” she said.
Siegel noted that the 2011 Mrs. World Pageant had successfully arrived in Orlando, and the Preliminary Competition will be on Wednesday, Dec. 14 and will be presented by national television personality Bill Harris. The Final Competition will be co-hosted by Henderson and her daughter Barbara Chase on Dec. 15, and staged at the Orange County Convention Center’s Linda Chapin Theater.
Looking around at the contestants from all over the globe who turned out at City Hall, Siegel said, “Never before has this City Hall held so much beauty at one time.”
He encouraged area residents to come to the Orange County Convention Center next week to see the competition live.
“All of you are invited to come see these beautiful women vie for their country,” he said. “If we left it up to these beautiful women, all of the world’s problems would be solved immediately.”
Married women representing more than 65 nations are participating in the ceremony, and they presented a large gathering as they stood behind the mayor, who joked, “I don’t always enjoy or look forward to all the things I do at City Hall, but I was looking forward to this one.”
He also said it was an honor for the city to host this event.
“We are so proud in the City of Orlando to host the Mrs. World Competition,” Dyer said. “A couple of them said to me, ‘I have always wanted to see Orlando and this is my first time,’ so we welcome you here.”
Orlando is the ideal place to host the competition, Dyer said, because Orlando has such a strong international population that virtually every one of those 65 nations is likely to have residents who have relocated here.
“We are a community that welcomes diversity and respects it,” he said. “We’re kind of a new melting pot here.”
On its web site, Mrs. World Pageant notes that this concept “has its roots in one of the oldest and most respected of all competitions: Mrs. America. That extravaganza was reorganized by David Marmel featuring a more contemporary and glamorous approach. While beauty is the key element, contestants are also urged to voice their opinions about marriage and current events.”
In this contest, “All married women – young wives, mothers and even grandmothers – are eligible to participate,” the site notes. “By providing this unique forum, in which delegates from around the world can come together and share a common purpose. Mrs. World successfully fosters greater communication, friendship and mutual understanding among all people.”
For tickets to the event, call 1-800-749-9815 or log on to Mrs. World Pageant.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.