LAWRENCE — As the Hispanic Week festival kicks off its 30th anniversary, they are not just marking a milestone, but also making history.
Moriah Reid, the teenages chosen by a panel of judges as Miss Hispanic Week on May 23, is the first biracial beauty queen ever elected — her mother is Dominican and her father, Scottish.
Reid, a business administration student at North Shore Community College, will preside during the weeklong festival that starts June 13. The festival culminates with a carnival at Campagnone Common and a closing parade.
Hispanic Week highlights Latino costumes focusing on the culture, dance, music and food of Latin American countries represented in the city. While the majority of its Latino residents are Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, Lawrence is also home to Cubans, Guatemalans, Peruvians, Ecuadorians, Colombians and others.
To prepare for the pageant, each of the eight participants was given a challenge — to create something out of bathroom tissue.
Reid attached the paper to a slip and made a dress, adorned with ruffles and black polka dots.
"The point is it doesn't matter what a beauty queen wears because her inside beauty will shine through," she said.
Reid is a secretary at the Environmental Protection Agency. She is being trained to speak about water pollution in Latin America.
Here, the Peabody resident talks about what being Miss Hispanic Week means to her:
Q. How do you feel about being the first biracial Miss Hispanic Week?
I'm glad they allowed me to. I take pride in my Latin roots because that's what I'm most familiar with. I'm also proud of being Scottish. When I was younger, my father used to take me to Scottish festivals. Because of that, I began to play the bagpipes, which I still own and pick up once in a while.
I express being Dominican with the food, but the music is big. When my mother and I are alone, we play salsa and merengue and start dancing. It's quite a sight.
I'm glad I was able to maintain both cultures. They're two extreme worlds, but it's a fun balance.
Q. Living in Peabody, why would you be interested in participating in a pageant in Lawrence?
I've always enjoyed going to Lawrence where I have a lot of family. From going to the bodegas, to the music you hear on the street and the food people offer you wherever house you stop in, it makes me feel at home.
I always dreamt of wearing the crown, the sash and the gown. When I was younger, I wanted to participate, but I thought there was no way I could answer the questions.
I learned to speak Spanish at home and spent my summers in Lawrence and New York with relatives who spoke Spanish to me.
Being in the pageant was a good experience. I was among my people.
The best part was seeing the pride gleaming off my mother's face. It's really nice to feel the support and pride from your parents.
Q. What do you consider the best part of being Miss Hispanic Week?
I can be proud that I can get to represent the 26 different countries that make up Latin America. I love history, and I will be learning about other countries that I don't know about.
Q. Can you tell me an experience that has shaped your life?
I went to Bolivia on a 2 1/2 week mission with Christ Church of Hamilton, to work in orphanages.
At the boys orphanage, they did not have shoes, and our group brought them shoes and food and also painted their room. In the girls orphanage, we worked with girls who were in rehabilitation after living on the streets. All of that made me reflect about all we have in America and when you go somewhere else, you see so much poverty. It's really sad.
Q. Have you traveled to any other country?
I was an exchange student in Argentina with AFS. I learned a new appreciation for family. I had the opportunity to travel and meet people.
Q. Who do you consider your role model and why?
My mother is my role model because she strives to do everything and always succeeds. If it wasn't for her, I have not done half the things I've done in my life, like going overseas and speaking in public.
Q. What do you do on your spare time?
I'm a belly dancer, I love horseback riding and work at a barn taking care of horses.