By Janee Law
The 2017 Miss Long Island Teen hails from Dix Hills.
Eighteen-year-old Taylor Yaeger was crowned on July 16 and is set to represent Long Island in the Miss New York Teen USA pageant in January 2017.
“It’s amazing because it’s already such an honor for me to represent Long Island,” Yaeger, who has lived in Dix Hills for the last eight years, said on Monday. “To win the title of New York would be amazing…It would be such an honor for me.”
At two years old, Yaeger began dancing and acting in plays. As she got older, she began to model, eventually modeling in New York Fashion Week, a series of events held in Manhattan this past February.
She said competing in the pageant would be a good opportunity for her to combine all her performing experience on stage.
Scott Yaeger, her father, said it was a “great feeling” to see his daughter perform on stage.
“I get goosebumps that she won,” he said. “I’m very proud of her.”
This was the second time Taylor Yaeger competed in the pageant. She was the third runner up last year.
Jacqueline Riker, who recently took over as co-owner of the pageants with Leanne Pinard, explained that Miss Long Island Teen is a “platform-based pageant where we encourage every delegate to promote and raise awareness for an organization that is near and dear to their heart.”
For Yaeger, her platform was to raise awareness for autism.
With Riker and Pinard purchasing the pageant from former owner and founder Lori Thomas, this year’s pageant didn’t have any live performances, typically a fitness portion, evening wear and interview competition. Yaeger secured her crown after an interview with Riker and Pinard.
Yaeger is a recent graduate of Half Hollow Hills High School East, where she was the captain of the kickline team. She plans to attend Long Island University Post in the fall with aspirations to become an orthodontist.
For a Christmas show with Hills East’s kickline squad, Yaeger performed at the James E. Allen Elementary School and the James E. Allen Jr./Sr. High School, both in Dix Hills, for students with disabilities.
After the show, Yaeger said, the team got to speak with the students and teach them some dances.
“It was just a life-changing moment for me to be able to see the smiles I could give to these children with autism,” said Yaeger, who also works as a camp counselor at Driftwood Day Camp in Melville.
Yaeger was also a troop leader of Special Police Athletic League Sports Saturdays, a weekly program held at an elementary school in Dix Hills for children with special needs. Yaeger, again with the Hills East kickline team, volunteered time every Saturday, September through March.
It was another life-changing moment, Yaeger said.
“It really makes me happy to be able to help the children and their families,” she added. “I love it.”
At the upcoming Miss New York Teen USA pageant, which will be held upstate in Harrison, Riker said Yaeger will work on honing her interview skills and “how to represent poise and grace on the stage.”
“We think she’s a wonderful role model for teens today and we can’t wait for her to go on ahead and represent Long Island,” Riker said. “Taylor can potentially do wonderful things there and we’re just hoping to make sure that she’s prepared and that she represents Long Island to its fullest.”
Yaeger’s mother, Christine, added that her daughter works really hard and is very determined.
“I’m looking forward to a wonderful year, and seeing all the growth and all the things that she’ll be able to do with this title,” she said. “I’m just over the moon with excitement for her and so proud of her.”