Miss Ocean City Shannon Wallace will pass her crown on to a new winner this month
From the waving and smiling to the dancing, Miss Ocean City Shannon Wallace attributes her successes in life to a strong support system. Mom Aimee, sister Maggie, step dad Jim and grandparents Carol and Tom have guided Shannon from a two-year-old dancer to a 19-year-old student at New York’s Pace University where she will be a sophomore this fall. Though her reign as Miss Ocean City has involved all of the typical pageant-duty trimmings the largest part of the job, Shannon says, is being an ambassador to the city. She will pass her crown, and advice, to the next Miss Ocean City this month all while keeping it real.
If you could pick any career, what would it be?
I would be a professional dancer like The Rockettes.
What would be the first thing you’d do if you were elected president?
I would hire a team/cabinet for myself that I thought was fair to both parties as well as independents to make sure that decisions get weighed equally and most effectively.
What’s a lesson you’ve learned from a family member?
My grandmom always said, ‘it hurts to be beautiful.’ And especially with Miss Ocean City I’ve had the eyelash pulling off, the hair being pulled. It’s intense. That was her famous quote and it turned out to be very, very true.
What would you do with $10 million?
I think I would spend a lot locally, trying to help local businesses. I’m all for supporting local businesses and I would funnel a lot of money into local charities and things like that to help the community that helped me as I was growing up. There are a lot of programs I went through that trained me to be the person I am today.
If you could live anywhere, where would it be?
I believe I’d live in Italy. My grandparents have been there quite a few times and that side of the family is Italian. I like the culture, the relaxed, community based environment they have there. There’s the architecture, the food. Everything is amazing.
If you won a contest and everything on the Boardwalk was free for a day, what are some of the things you’d do?
I’d definitely have to go on an all-out shopping spree because I’m such a shopaholic. I’ve always wanted to try all of the french fries on the Boardwalk. I’d just go through the fries from each place. Same thing with pizza. I’d definitely go on some rides since I haven’t been on any in forever and try the new Gail Force coaster. I’m nervous to go on it because I’m not a big rollercoaster person but I’m going to try it anyway.
What is one of your greatest fears?
Being abandoned and being alone. I’m a bubbly person and like talking to people and being involved in things so I think if I was in isolation and didn’t have anyone around me, I wouldn’t be happy.
What is your best accomplishment?
Getting to go to school at Pace and getting a good scholarship to go there. New York is one of my favorite places and to get in there is a big accomplishment for me. I thought, wow, I was chosen out of all of these applicants and got a good scholarship as well.
What qualities do you look for in friends?
Someone who is trustworthy. Someone who can tell it like it is and isn’t afraid to tell you how it is. Someone who would drop everything for you. I have a few friends who are like that and I’ve been friends with them forever. My close, close friends are a part of my family. They share the same qualities my family has. They’d take a bullet for me and I’d do the same for them.
Who are some of your heroes?
I look to each and every person in my family for a different kind of inspiration and strength. My mom is up there. She’s probably number one because she’s been the most influential person because she’s given up so much for me to do everything we’ve done. We’re a very close family. My grandmom as well. The three of us and my sister are very close.
What is a treasured memory?
There are a lot, but any time when my family gets together. It feels like every piece is in place.
What is an embarrassing moment you overcame?
When I was really little in a major dance competition. I was really tiny and in the back of the stage; I was a little string bean child. A bigger girl in front of me threw her arm back and hit me. My nose was basically punched and I really wanted to cry with my nose probably almost broken, but I kept going. I’ve had many costume malfunctions. Many unhookings. In pageants I’ve had props fall. When I was performing at Little Miss Ocean City my hat flew off and fell off the stage and of course my hair looked terrible under the hat, which is why I had the hat on. You just get up and keep going.
What is a motto you follow?
I talk to a lot of people and you’re not going to love everyone you meet. You still have to be nice. ‘Kill them with kindness,’ as my mom would always say. Even if they make your blood boil, you always want to be the better person and not stoop to someone’s level.
What would you tell the next Miss Ocean City?
To be a real person. As much as kids kind of look at you as a princess, I’ve tried to be a very grounded person. Be real. The best part of you is your true self. Be Miss Ocean City for the city not just for yourself. If you look at the last few winners, we’ve always had a very kind, polite Miss Ocean City. I always strive to be very grounded and humble. I’m still Shannon Wallace, but I’m Miss Ocean City as well. You don’t become it, it becomes you.
Interview by Hanna Schweder. Photo by Bill Godfrey