'A real-life princess'

Andrea Licata, first Miss Fountain Valley in two decades, prepares to hand over her crown Saturday. She attends UC Irvine.

March 06, 2013|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Andrea Licata wears her crown proudly as the current Miss Fountain Valley.
Andrea Licata wears her crown proudly as the current Miss… (Don Leach / HUNTINGTON…)

To young girls, Andrea Licata seems straight out of a fairy tale.

Mesmerized by her glittering tiara, sash and diamond and gold necklace — perks of being Miss Fountain Valley — they stop her to ask, "Are you a real-life princess?"

A gathering at Mile Square Park put Licata face-to-face with one such fan, who struggled to muster the courage to introduce herself.

Initiating a conversation, Licata spent time with the child, learning later from her grateful mother that she had only recently emerged from a long hospital stint.

"She was at this carnival, but couldn't do much — I'm not quite sure what sickness she had," Licata recalled. "Her mom told me that she was simply looking for a great time, and I had made a huge impact on her. I pretended to put my crown on her head, and it really made her day."


Events like the Mayor's Ball, the Orange County Chocolate Festival, the Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony and Howling Halloween in the Park became a staple in Licata's life after she emerged victorious at the 2012 Miss Fountain Valley Scholarship Pageant in March.

"Andrea seems like a genuinely nice person," said Fountain Valley Councilman John Collins, a former mayor who worked closely with her on a number of occasions. "We attended a lot of events, and she was very attentive to her duties as Miss Fountain Valley. This was the first pageant in 20-odd years, so she had no benchmark to go by to look at what others had or hadn't done. I think she did well."

Licata was able to participate in the pageant, open to women between 18 and 24, because her hometown of Costa Mesa is part of the eligibility area in which contestants had to work, live or go to school.

An affiliate of the Miss America pageant, this program collaborates with the Children’s Miracle Network, to which each contestant is required to contribute $100. 

Flanked by her family, Licata, 19, a UC Irvine business major, was watching the Miss America contest early last year, taking note of the beauty and accomplishments of each participant.

"I would have never thought I would be in a pageant," she said. "I just did some research online and found that there was a lot of good scholarship money involved, and I thought, 'Well, this looks fun, and I'm going to have a lot of college expenses.' So it was really a complete whim.'"

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