Wife, mother, business owner also has title of Mrs. Maryland

May 25, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

Among the family portraits on a living room table, Ann Marie Ciara has placed a glittering tiara with a matching pin and a sash that reads: Mrs. Maryland U.S. International.

"I keep making circles around the table and looking at the crown at least 50 times a day," said Mrs. Ciara at her home in Hampstead.

In addition to wife, mother of two and business owner, Mrs. Ciara now adds pageant winner to her titles. A trip to Tyler, Texas, in August for the national competition comes with the crown, won in Annapolis last month.

With a little encouragement, the 5-foot-3 blonde will model her tiara and the multicolored sequined gown she wore at the competition.

The crown wobbled slightly on her head as she laughed and admitted surprise at her new stature. Winning may run in the family, though. Her mother, Betty Ertle, is the 1994 Senior Mrs. New Jersey.

"She does a tap dance number to 'Everything Old Is New Again,' " she said, adding that she did not follow in her mother's dance steps. "I was never a hoofer. Ballet is more me."

Mrs. U.S. International, open to married women 24 to 55, does not require contestants to exhibit a talent.

"They know most of us are too busy with children and careers to be constantly rehearsing," she said.

At the state competition, six judges scored three finalists in evening gown and aerobic wear segments as well as one-on-one interviews -- five minutes with each judge. "I like personal interviews where you can really interact with the judges," Mrs. Ciara said. "A panel is like a roast where everyone is asking you questions at the same time."

One judge inquired about Hampstead, where she has lived since October. After relocating to Carroll County from New Jersey two years ago, the family lived in Westminster while their home was under construction.

"I told them Hampstead is not a bubbly metropolis," she said. "It is a little community with a helpful flavor and a stable environment for raising children."

Another judge asked her how she would plan a surprise birthday celebration for her husband or a party for President Bill Clinton.

"Both would be at Monticello," she said with a laugh. "They are both Jefferson freaks."

The judges were looking for the most well-rounded person "with interpersonal communication skills," she said. Those are the skills she uses as she runs The Home Office, a medical and legal support services company.

When the judges announced her as Mrs. Maryland 1994, she immediately heard the voice of her 5-year-old daughter, Noelle.

"We have 'Mom, I can't believe you won' on tape," she said.

Her other child is 3-year-old Christian.

Nick Ciara did the crowning honors for his wife.

"My husband was more nervous than I was," she said. "He had to crown me, and he couldn't figure out what to do with the bobby pins."

Along with the usual symbols of the title came a watch, jewelry and a $500 gift certificate for an evening gown.

After reviewing a videotape of the contest, she said she may switch from sequins to a pearl-studded pale pink chiffon for the Texas competition.

Mrs. Ciara, who is 40, said she is spending a lot of time at the Four Seasons Fitness Center to make sure she stays in shape. She said she knows the competition will be intense. Each state will send a woman to the national contest.

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