Light in the Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center dimmed Thursday as the 29th Annual Mr. UPJ competition commenced. Several young Alpha Gamma Delta sisters in black dresses – who were posing for a photo – quickly found their seats.
The balcony audience bellowed jauntily while their bottom-floor counterparts sought to compete by returning their challenge.
Alpha Gamma Delta sister Katie Sullivan ascended the stage, welcomed the audience and opened the event.
The Mr. UPJ competition, she said, had four stages: a formal wear, a sportswear and a talent competition – closing with contestant interviews.
The 12 contestants walked out from behind the colossal crimson curtains in sport coats, ties and dress pants.
During the sportswear competition, Randall Penn, a Pitt-Johnstown business major, donned a rugby uniform, requested volunteers and occupied the stage to demonstrate rugby practice drills.
Kevin McDonald, a UPJ golf team member, simulated what goes on in a professional golfing tournament, and got into a humorous brawl with his caddy.
The talent competition became a small-scale music festival, where all of the contestants’ performances involved music.
Matt Hansen, an engineering major, plucked a series of excerpts from classic rock favorites into a medley, while Bill Rush, a communication major, recreated a scene from “The Party Rock Anthem” music video with several dancers.
Corey Strittmatter, who passersby may have occasionally spotted singing and playing guitar at Maple Hall, also performed a song on stage.
Aside from flamboyant acts and attire, Alpha Gamma Delta reminded audience members that the money raised was to go to juvenile diabetes.
Meanwhile, many volunteers working in the lobby counted masses of coins of all kinds in preparation for Penny Wars.
“Penny Wars is for our Spirit Award,” said Alpha Gamma sister Samantha Keast as another pile of coins was poured out of a contestant’s voting jar to be counted.
“Pennies are positive (points), while the silver (coins) and dollars are negative (points).
“The money that we have raised here goes to our philanthropy, which is juvenile diabetes. So, even if you do not win the Spirit Award, it is always a good thing to donate because it all goes to charity.”
The Mr. UPJ selection process commenced as an Alpha Gamma sister announced something unprecedented in the competition’s history; a voter tie for the runner-up position between Rush and Joey Morway.
It was agreed the runner-up was to be decided by another contestant interview round, which secured Rush’s victory.
An abrupt silence and tension filled the room as an Alpha Gamma sister announced this year’s Mr. UPJ winner was McDonald.
George Zanic, Mr. UPJ 2011, was invited to crown this year’s winner as he deftly placed a crown on McDonald’s head.
“My favorite part of this competition,” said McDonald, “was probably the fact that you can just get on stage and express yourself – and have some fun… I think the most important thing of all is that we do this for a good cause.
“My big brother Brian Gindlesperger won Mr. UPJ two years ago, and my good friend George Zanic won it last year.
“You know, all that hard works pays off. I just thank all the girls for helping me with my dance and sticking with me.”