miss crustacean beauty contest

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Posted by on August 03, 2005 at 20:31:49:

VIRGINIA BEACH — Caroline Needhan , 7, coached her athletes like they were competing for Olympic g old.

By squirting them with a water-filled spray bottle, she made sure they were adequately hydrated. And by feeding them Pepperidge Farm Goldfish crackers, she ensured a proper diet.

Caroline’s contenders were crabs named Racer and Soccer, who were competing in the fourth annual Jelly Belly Mid-Atlantic Hermit Crab Challenge on 29th Street at the Oceanfront.

More than 350 people registered their hermit crabs in the match-up, which also featured a crab beauty pageant.

Mike Hilton , director of marketing for Beachevents, said a Virginia Beach tourism official got the idea from Ocean City, N.J., which has had crab races for more than 20 years.

Hilton said he has seen an increase in event participation every year. This year, he said, about 150 more people registered than last year.

Hundreds lined up at the racetrack, aptly named the “Crustacean 500 ,” which was written in red at the top of the white track.

The track consisted of a starting line, a small red circle in the middle of the track where the crab-testants were held before the start of the races, and the finish line, a large red circle on the outside.

The crabs , many of which were decorated, raced in heats to tunes from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.” The top three advanced to the preliminaries. From there, it was on to the semifinals, then the finals.

Trina Taylor entered her crab in the contest for the second straight year.

The Virginia Beach resident said she went all out last year by elegantly decorating her crab, who’s named after the upscale fashion line, Christian Dior.

This year, though, she said, she took a different approach.

“This year, we’re keeping him natural,” Taylor said of Dior, who has a brother crab named Louis Vuitton .

L.D. Davis , program coordinator with Beachevents, said she looked for different things as a judge in the “Miss Curvaceous Crustacean Beauty Pageant .”

During the competition, Davis interviewed the owners and interacted with their crabs. Some crabs strutted their claws while others, being quite crabby, barely left their shells. .

Davis said she especially liked to see efforts by children.

“Not that mom and dad helping out is a negative,” she said. “But you can certainly tell something the child has done.”

Crabs were also judged in categories such as shyest, biggest, friendliest, and prettiest, as well as most traveled, most athletic and most creative .

Allyson Flora’s crab, Penelope, won for “Prettiest Crab.” Allyson, 10, had painted Penelope’s shell with hot pink nail polish and adorned it with multicolored rhinestones – enough bling to make hip-hop mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs jealous.

In preparing for the big race, Jackie Thomas , a science and math elementary school teacher, used a little strategy.

“I shopped for a medium-sized crab,” she said, “with the lightest shell so they could move fast.”

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