Bellefonte student on fire

Senior+Ella+Underwood+represents+Bellefonte+at+the+2021+Flaming+Foliage+Festival

Photo by Pauline Alterio

Senior Ella Underwood represents Bellefonte at the 2021 Flaming Foliage Festival

Pauline Alterio, Photographer

The annual Flaming Foliage Festival took Pennsylvania town Renovo by storm on October 9, and Bellefonte senior Ella Underwood was there to see it all.

“It was an exciting night,” she said. “I enjoyed the experience and being able to meet people from all over Pennsylvania.”

The senior played a major role in the festival, where she represented her town as “Miss Bellefonte” in the event’s Queen pageant, a traditional competition where students from dozens of Pennsylvania schools compete to earn titles based upon their “character, poise, and ability to communicate with others.”

Those nominated for the event participated in day-long activities, beginning with personal interviews with judges, and concluding with a coronation ceremony, where each contender gave a speech on their personal lives and merits. The highlight of the day, however, was a two-hour parade, where contestants and community members alike intermingled behind lively music and vibrant celebration.

Musicians perform in the Flaming Foliage parade (Photo by Pauline Alterio)

The festival was not all fun and games, however. To prepare for the competition, Ella spoke with numerous “community members and staff members about Bellefonte,” explaining she did so to acquire a better taste and understanding for her role in the festival. She initially became involved with the event when she ran for Miss Bellefonte in her junior year, competing with four classmates, and ultimately winning a staff vote.

Her escort to the event came senior Domenic Nelson, who supported Ella in the day’s activities, riding alongside her in the parade and presenting at the Queen’s ceremony, where he was ultimately crowned “Mr. Congeniality.” 

“It was an exciting night for both of us,” Ella said. “My favorite part was saying ‘Sicko Mode’ and fist bumping Domenic before going on stage.”

Though she recalled fearing the public speaking and attention of the event, Ella says she put forth her best effort, and expressed gratitude for her ability to participate.

“My advice is to be yourself. It is always better to be genuine than to try and guess what someone wants to hear. Everyone is feeling the same thing and they will stick with you forever.”