Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Denise Garrido finally speaks

Joe O'Connor
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Denise Garrido, who was Miss Universe Canada for 24 hours before a miscalculation was spotted and a new winner crowned, poses for a portrait in Toronto, Ontario, May 28, 2013. Tyler Anderson / National Post
I tell Denise Garrido that it is OK to be bitter. In fact, I urge her to be just a little bit bitter, because I would be bitter, and because being bitter, because feeling angry, because getting fall down drunk and busting some furniture and shouting at the moon that life isn’t fair would all fall within the realm of completely understandable reactions given her present situation.

Given that, on Saturday night, at the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts in Toronto, with scores of family and friends and complete strangers looking on, Ms. Garrido experienced something that she describes as perfect “bliss.”

Denise Garrido as she is crowned Miss Universe Canada 2013
on Saturday, May 25, 2013 in Toronto. 

“When they announced that I was the winner — that I was actually going to be Miss Universe Canada — it is something that I had always wanted ever since I was a little girl.

“It truly was a dream-come-true moment. I was so happy.” Happy to don her glittering crown, happy to slip on the Miss Universe Canada sash, happy to receive a bouquet of flowers and accept congratulations from her fellow competitors before collapsing into her hotel room bed after a night of celebrating her win. 

The 26-year-old ballroom dancing aficionado, who has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo — and is a classically trained pianist to boot — was still happy the next morning after waking up to spend the day filming Miss Universe Canada 2013 promotional spots and basking in the sequined-glow of her beauty queen glory.

“I still couldn’t believe it,” she says.

And then the unbelievable happened: event organizers called Ms. Garrido into an urgent meeting at 10 p.m. Sunday. 

“It started out on a positive note,” Ms. Garrido says. “Then they told me there had been a miscalculation, that the wrong winner had been found and that the runner up was the actual winner.” 

Then they asked the aspiring doctor from Bradford, Ont., to hand back her crown. And her Miss Universe Canada sash.

And all because of a glitch, all because some Miss Universe Canada judge screwed up when inputting the handwritten scorecards for the gowns and bikinis and skill testing question components of the three day competition into a computer, a mistake that, upon remedy, knocked Ms. Garrido from top spot to 3rd runner-up — ending her Ms. Universe Canada reign after 23 hours.

“It was shattering,” she tells me, over her car’s speakerphone, while driving from her parents’ home in Bradford to Toronto. “I was sad. I was disappointed. And I was embarrassed, really embarrassed, because everyone back home had been celebrating. Getting over my own ego has been the hardest thing.

“But being angry would not have changed this situation.”

I guess not.

Riza Santos displays her gown during Miss Universe Canada 2013 on Saturday, May 25, 2013 in Toronto. A mathematical error, revealed the next day, showed that Denise Garrido (who had been crowned that night) did not win the crown, but Santos did. Handout

Controversy is no stranger to the Miss Universe Canada franchise. A year ago the hubbub involved Jenna Talackova, a statuesque blond who happened to be born a man, and who was initially barred from the competition before organizers relented. Ms. Talackova was voted Miss Congeniality.

“It has been an interesting couple years, that is for sure,” says Andrew Lopez, a spokesperson for the event. “Denise has been an incredibly gracious young lady in dealing with this.”

You see, life is about seeing your glass as half full, about being an optimist, Ms. Garrido tells me. Stuff, even bad stuff, even nightmarish nutty stuff like, say, being crowned Miss Universe Canada on a Saturday night and being told on the Sunday that you have to give back the crown because of a judge’s typo, happens.

And when it does happen it can make you bitter, if you let it. But not if you are Denise Garrido, a young woman whose ability to spin a raw deal into a positive picture is a sparkling example of a true beauty — no crown required.

In every storm cloud there is a silver lining if you are willing to look for it.—

Denise Garrido (@denisegarrido) May 28, 2013

“Everything happens for a reason and for some reason the universe, in that moment, was like: ‘OK: Denise wants this so bad that we are going to give to it to her,’” Ms. Garrido says.

“She is going to live the moment. She is going to get the pictures with the crown. She is going to have the other girls congratulate her and now we are going to give it to the actual winner."

“Despite everything else that has happened since, at least I was able to live my dream — for that one night I had my moment.”

“And that’s good enough for me.”

SOURCE: National Post