By Tess Mitchell, Wausau Pilot and Review

The first Wausau Area Silver Pageant will be held this weekend to honor women in their “age of excellence.”

This formal, nonprofit pageant, spearheaded by Mountain Terrace Senior Living, will recognize the legacies of 12 local women over the age of 75. Nominees are set to compete against one another in several categories including a question and answer portion and a multimedia talent presentation.

Theresa Haase, Mountain Terrace Community Relations Director and the event committee’s founder, said the pageant is loosely modeled after a senior citizen pageant in New York City she learned about from a neighbor.

“I felt compelled to start this pageant because after getting to know each of these amazing people and hearing their stories told over coffee, those experiences are gone when they are gone,” Haase said. “I had been searching for a way for their stories to live on and having the pageant experience with their children has already been a life changing for so many in the program.”

After weeks of preparation, these ladies are ready for their stage debut.

“Every single participant has enjoyed preparing for the event so much,” Haase said.

The process so far involved a two-day portrait session with local photographer Emily Voss, of VOSStudios. Prior to their photo shoots, each participant received a royal makeover from local beauticians.

Inspired by her experiences working in assisted living facilities, the pageant bloomed out of Haase’s desire to capture the history of inspirational women in the community in a way that is both timeless and tributary. Each participant has a unique story to tell, one Haase said she hopes will inspire future generations.

The event is being held in pageant form to give participants a day of pampering and, literally, their time in the spotlight, Haase said. A producer is working on the event, which will feature special performances, and a winner will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes two local TV news celebrities, a representative from the historical society, Mountain Terrace’s executive director and current Miss Wisconsin Tianna Vanderhei.

But the women’s personal stories are clearly the focus of the pageant.

“These women are all very humble, definitely not used to being in the limelight,” Haase said. “It’s all so new and exciting for them.”

The event will serve as a platform to ensure that the stories and accomplishments of each participant will live on for generations.

In a true community effort, the Wausau Area Silver Pageant was made possible through the support of more than 100 local individuals and businesses.

The public is encouraged to attend this free event and join in celebrating the lives of these extraordinary women of the Wausau area.

The free event is slated for Saturday, Feb. 23 in the auditorium at Wausau East High School, 2607 N. 18th St., Wausau. The ladies will take the stage at 2 p.m.

To find out more, visit the organization’s Facebook event page.