When the 2021 Mr. and Miss Cardinal City contestants take the stage on Saturday, September 25, it will be to a much smaller audience than in the past, one without friends and classmates, but it’s all in the name of COVID safety.
With 3 Mr. Cardinal City contestants and 14 Miss Cardinal City contestants, as well as pageant hosts and judges, Sturges Center for the Fine Arts will already be host to a number of people. Normally, the audience would also be filled to the brim with the contestants’ friends, classmates, teammates, teachers, and family, but not this year.
“We’re limiting the audience to just the contestants’ immediate families this year. And the audience is being grouped and assigned seats by household, with empty seats between groups,” said Eric Vetere, the safety & emergency manager for the San Bernardino City Unified School District (SBCUSD). “This is due to our community’s COVID case rates and doing our part to slow the spread. And, of course, everyone in the audience will be required to wear a face covering, even if they are vaccinated.”
The Cardinal City Pageants are popular events for San Bernardino High School (SBHS), the home of the cardinals. In previous years, when the events were held separately, it was usually to a packed house. Missed pageants in 2020 and early 2021 because of COVID lockdowns resulted in the combined pageant on September 25, which should have meant even bigger crowds than usual.
“Of course we would like to accommodate everyone who wants to attend. We know that the pageants are a matter of school pride for students and a lot of fun for the contestants’ friends and family, but health and safety has to come first,” pageant director and bilingual school outreach worker Jaime Rios said. “I’m just glad we are able to hold the pageants at all because I know it will be a big boost to the morale and mental health of our SBHS cardinals, even if they can’t all be there in person. And at least the contestants will have their close family members there to cheer them on.”
The Cardinal City pageant contestants take the stage at 6 p.m. on September 25 at Sturges Center for the Fine Arts. This event is not open to the general public.