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Miss Andersonville Winner Defies Gender Boundaries, Over $16,000 Raised


Photo Courtesy Andersonville Chamber

He’s a first for the Miss Andersonville pageant, but Kevin Romero wouldn’t have it any other way.

“The contest was a fundraiser wrapped in the package of a beauty pageant, and whoever raised the most money was Miss Andersonville,” the 33-year-old said on Thursday. “I’m the first Mr. Miss Andersonville.”

Six contestants in all helped raise more than $16,000 for their charities, said Jessica Hammer, director of marketing for the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce, “and (they) had a fantastic time doing it. It was such a joy to watch them throw themselves into the competition to support their non-profits and show their love for Andersonville.”


Photo Courtesy Andersonville Chamber

Romero lives on Berwyn Avenue, just down the street from the pH Comedy Theater. That’s the non-profit organization that received all $5,300 of the money he raised as part of the Miss Andersonville contest, results from which were announced on Sunday.

The pH Comedy Theater is a non-profit theater that hosts funny local talent and (once a year) brings zombies to Clark Street. Romero started acting and taking improv classes at the theater last year. This allowed him to participate in his first musical and first play, he said. He is currently in a play called “Yes, Andersonville!” a sketch musical.

“It’s a great opportunity and great organization, and it’s local and gives people who are local the opportunity to see some great talent,” he said.

Romero was announced as Miss Andersonville on the last day of the Midsommarfest, Andersonville’s annual summer festival. This year, the festival also helped celebrate the neighborhood’s 50th year since its official naming.

This was also likely the first year that the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce decided to create a fundraiser out of the beauty pageant.

“I thought it was a really smart idea,” Romero said. “We developed a really great camaraderie. All the money that was raised went to everybody’s individual charities. It wasn’t like anyone really missed out.”

Originally from New Mexico, Romero has been attending the Midsommarfest every year since he moved to Chicago about eight years ago. He’s lived in Andersonville for three years.

“One of the things I really love about Midsommarfest is that all the local businesses are out and promoting their own things, as well as working collaboratively together,” Romero said. “And I think the Andersonville Chamber of Commerce does a great job of working with those organizations.”

Plus, the contest was just a lot of fun, he said. While his pageant competitors dressed up, “I dressed down,” he laughed. He spent the contest shirtless, wearing bedazzled swim trunks.

That said, Romero is happy to give others a shot at the Miss Andersonville crown next year.

“I hope to continue to represent Andersonville this year and I would love to crown the person who becomes the next Miss Andersonville,” he said.

Meanwhile, other Miss Andersonville contestants included:

  • April Friedman-Hurvitz, who raised $815 for Apna Ghar, an organization that supports both families and victims of domestic abuse.
  • Boobs Radley, who raised $1,700 for Tree House, a safe haven for abused and neglected cats.
  • Bente Engelsoft, who raised $2,200 for The Crib at The Night Ministry, a group that supports teenagers and young adults struggling with poverty and homelessness.
  • Mark King, also known as the Divine Ima-Beth Seller, who raised $4,400 for Friends of Andersonville, an advocacy group that promotes literacy in all area schools through outreach.
  • Sangini, also known as Swindian, who raised $1,900 for Chicago Cares, an organization that connects volunteers to projects where Chicagoans are most in need, including supporting seniors, kids and those living in hunger and homelessness.

Hammer added that this year’s Midsommarfest went well, despite the rain. Attendees enjoyed seeing the historic storefront posters, Andersonville-themed art from Helen C. Peirce School of International Studies students, and the street pole banners, she said. These were part of the 50th anniversary celebration of Andersonville’s naming.

“We’ve gotten several comments from festival goers that the music this year was the best they’ve ever heard, as well as comments on the quality of the vendors,” she said.


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