Senior moment! Elders strut their stuff at Grandmothers Pageant • Brooklyn Paper

Senior moment! Elders strut their stuff at Grandmothers Pageant

Glamour granny: Lina Sapelnikova came to the annual Your Highness Grandmother pageant all the way from Philadelphia, Pa., to show off her chic style.
Photo by Steve Solomonson

They’re national treasures!

A dozen grandmas from the borough and beyond showed off their talents at this year’s Grandmothers Pageant in Brighton Beach on Sunday.

The young-at-heart ladies wowed the three judges – all grandfathers – with their singing, dancing, and elaborate outfits, delighting some 300 guests who came out for the competition at the National Restaurant on Brighton Beach Avenue, according to an organizer.

“When I see those ladies, it probably keeps me alive. Because they are something,” said Raisa Chernina, the head of local do-good group the Be Proud Foundation.

The 12 contestants drew admirers from surrounding neighborhoods, but also far-flung places like Philadelphia and even Queens, according to Chernina.

The Sheepshead Bay resident started the pageant with her mother, who has since passed away, in 2002, and ever since, it has helped foster better connections between locals of all generations, according to Chernina’s husband, who judges the contest each year.

“It’s important for us to show the grandchildren what their grandmothers can do. The kids are really proud of their grandmothers,” said Alexander Sirotin.

The eagle-eyed observer added that, as a judge, he looks for imagination and enthusiasm in the contestants.

“I look for their desire to perform and show themselves,” Sirotin said. “It’s important if they’re singing nice. It doesn’t have to be professional, but just good musical taste and selection of the song,” he said.

One Sheepshead Bay grandmother-of-two knocked her performance out of the park by singing songs from her youth while incorporating three wardrobe changes, including a glamorous gown she swapped for a fake beard, mustache, and men’s clothes.

“I was thinking about doing something funny this year,” said second-time contestant Mara Goldshtein. “I bought a beard and mustache and nobody recognized me.”

But the pageant was no cakewalk, according to the 82-year-old, who said that after all the mirth and mayhem, she most looked forward to some good old-fashioned R-and-R.

“I like when I get home and I can rest a little bit,” she said.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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