Holly Harrar, 22, of Pottstown (center) was crowed Miss Philadelphia February 27 at Drexel University.
Holly Harrar wants to be startin’ something.
The 22-year-old Pottstown native and Shippensburg University senior took home the crown in the Miss Philadelphia pageant on Feb. 27 at Drexel University.
For the talent portion of the competition, Harrar chose to tap dance to the song “Wanna be Startin’ Somethin” by Michael Jackson. The title is true to Harrar’s passion to start something positive around the city of Philadelphia, to spread awareness for her platform of disability-rights issues, and to be a good role model.
The Miss Philadelphia pageant is an annual scholarship pageant that is the preliminary event to Miss Pennsylvania and Miss America, the world’s largest scholarship provider to young women. Harrar will compete in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in June.
Philly Happening recently interviewed Harrar about her first week as Miss Philadelphia, her plans for her year of service, and her journey from a 5-year-old pageant winner to joining the company of the Philadelphia women who have inspired her along the way.
P.H.: Tell our readers what it’s been like since you were crowned.
H.H.: It’s been really crazy! Everything has been very fast-paced! I’ve needed to be here (Philly), there, and everywhere. After the pageant, I had an interview bright and early the next morning with the local news station. I didn’t sleep much because I was so excited. I’m from Pottstown, so I went home to Pottstown on Sunday night, and then I went back to Philly on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Somehow, in between all that, I had to figure out how I was going to find time to take a midterm exam
P.H.: Tell us about the moment when they announced your name.
H.H.: Because I’ve done pageants in the past, I prepared myself in a way where I hope for the best, but I also prepare to walk away without winning.
There were 18 women, including myself, who are so talented and passionate—and I’m not just saying that. Some of them I’ve known for a few years now. They’re my friends. They’re women I enjoyed having by my side through all of this. It’s fun having peers like this. We build each other up instead of tearing each other down. Going into Saturday night. It could have gone to anyone. All I could do is put my best foot forward, and I did. When I got called in the top five, I thought, ‘it’s either me, or it’s not even close!’
When they called me name I can’t explain it, but I was so honored! If you watch the footage, you see this moment where I look up at my family and I’m like, ‘What is going on?!’
I kind of blacked out. All I remember is the confetti. It was exhilarating!
I was genuinely not expecting it, but I’m very happy to have the opportunity and the scholarship, as well.
Harrar is passionate about disability-rights issues.
P.H.: Tell us more about your platform and what you’d like to do with it over the course of the year.
H.H.: I will be doing a lot of work with various disability organizations. Something I really want to do that will impact someone’s life is that I want to take someone with a disability, who is a little down on their luck, and get them a job. I want to get them in the workforce and moving in the right direction, so they fulfill the utmost quality of life, so they can provide for themselves. People with disabilities are very capable and able of doing much more than we grant them the opportunity to achieve.
P.H.: What does your year as Miss Philadelphia look like?
H.H.: It is a year of service. I’m an advocate for the Miss Philadelphia organization, as a whole. We just partnered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters in the Philadelphia region. We’ll be doing a lot of work with them. I’ll be promoting my platform and also raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network.
P.H.: What will you be doing to prepare for the Miss Pennsylvania pageant in June?
H.H.: I feel pretty prepared. I might try to tweak my talent a bit.
P.H.: How did you first get involved in pageants?
H.H.: I first started in pageants when I was five. It was a local festival pageant. I won little Miss Lansdale of 1999. It was cute little thing my mom entered me in. We did that and we had our fun, but then we put that away for a little while. In middle school, I got an invitation in the mail to enter another pageant. My mom and I went out and bought a dress for it from David’s Bridal. I did the pageant and kind of caught “the bug.”
I love communicating with people, enhancing my communication skills, and developing platforms that I’m passionate about. The more I did pageants, the more I learned about myself. I built a level of confidence that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. I was practicing talking to people and learned how to interview and promote all the things I was most proud of about myself.
Harrar after winning the Miss Philadelphia crown on Feb. 27.
P.H.: You’re a student at Shippensburg University majoring in Broadcast Journalism. What is your long-term career goal?
H.H.: I was asked this during the Miss Philadelphia pageant. Two judges were from the local TV station, so it was kind of fun talking to them about this. I really would love to be a news reporter in Philadelphia! I’ve looked up to newscasters from Philadelphia since before I can remember. My family was big on watching the news at dinnertime. I grew up watching these people report and tells stories about the city that I’ve grown up to love and I would really love to be one of those people telling the stories.
P.H.: Any overall thoughts on being crowned Miss Philadelphia?
H.H.: When I was in 7th grade, I attended my first Miss Pennsylvania pageant. Year after year, the Miss Philadelphias stood out above the rest. They’ve always been so passionate and great dancers and speakers. I developed a liking toward the Miss Philadelphias and I always wanted to be a Miss Philadelphia.
I know what huge shoes I have to fill in that right—Julia Rae Schlucter, Miss Philadelphia 2015 —the one that crowned me, is amazing. I want to be like all the Miss Philadelphias that I’m joining in this sisterhood. They are my role models and I hope to be a role model for others the way that they were for me.