It’s been almost a year since Lyons Township High School junior Joe Dillon succumbed to his father, Keith’s, pressure to organize a Mr. LT pageant.
“My dad did Mr. New Trier in the mid-80s and with his encouragement and help I decided to try and put a pageant together at LT,” Joe Dillon said. “The whole brainstorming committee first met in December.”
This planning culminated in the inaugural Mr. LT pageant, which found juniors and seniors competing in swimsuit and talent competitions, as well as a silly-but-serious question-and-answer session Feb. 25 in the Reber Center at the north campus. The evening ended with the crowning of senior Jack Kunkle, whose hilarious stand-up comedy act had the audience roaring with laughter.
The event was not just for fun. The pageant raise $4,001 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, which has been the charity of choice for LT’s Student Council this year.
“It turned into a real competition and everyone wanted to win,” Dillon said, noting the 20 spots were filled up early on.
The competitive nature of the contestants was visible in the dressing room prior to the start of the pageant.
Junior Jack Gauen was peer-pressured into competing.
“I figured ‘what the hey, I can win this thing!’” he said.
Gauen’s unique talent, reading pick-up lines while sitting on the edge of the stage in a spotlight, gave the crowd a laugh.
“It’s a great cause and a lot of fun,” said junior Dante Stefanini. “Joe Dillon came to me and I immediately was on board. It’s been fun working with such great people. I hope it can become a tradition for many years to come.”
“The one and only Steve Campbell approached me,” said senior Connor Pavletic. “I got into it and decided I could do a pretty cool talent.” Pavletic regaled the crowd with a display of gymnastics and physical strength.
Some of the talents leaned towards the silly, with junior Joseph Bruni impressing the crowd with his ability to down an enormous amount of ketchup.
“I’ve loved ketchup since the day I was born. I hope I don’t throw up,” Bruni said.
He did not, though he stood upon a tarp just in case.
The event featured two masters of ceremonies.
“Joe Dillon knows I’ve been doing theatrical stuff. He said it was first instinct for me and Bryce (Hughes) to do it together,” said junior Dan Devine. “The contestants and all their talents: some of them are hilarious and some just blow me away.”
“I was excited when Joe came and asked me to do this,” he said before the event. “It’s going to be a fantastic show.”
A great deal of planning went into the Mr. LT pageant, but Dillon’s father prepared him for the work involved. But Dillon’s friend, senior Steve Campbell, was Dillard’s personal savior.
“Steve deserves all the praise in the world for his help. He was my everything in this endeavor,” Dillon said.
The evening ended with the crowning of the very first Mr. LT, senior Jack Kunkle, whose hilarious stand-up comedy act had the audience roaring with laughter.