'Hunks in Heels' to raise funds for Shop With A CopBy HASKEL BURNS,
Get ready for a beauty pageant the likes of which you’ve probably never seen.
The Petal Police Department is gearing up to host its second annual Hunks in Heels – A Womanless Beauty Pageant from 6:30-9:30 p.m. May 12 at Petal Civic Center. Featuring men dressed to the hilt in women’s garb – from wigs to dresses to high heels – the event is aimed at raising funds for the police department’s Shop With A Cop program, in which officers take shopping trips with Petal children.
“We get our cops, our business owners, and sometimes just random citizens that want to help us,” said Miranda Williams, who serves as coordinator for Shop With A Cop. “It’s a beauty pageant, but there’s no women in it, and the women that are in it are dressed like men.
“We have their initial walk-in, and then they do an interview, and then they do talent (performances). It’s just a good time – it’s good fun and family friendly.”
Judges will decide a first-place award winner - known as the Hunk in Heels - along with a First Alternate and a Best Talent winner. In addition, crowd members will be allowed to choose a People's Choice winner.
“So the people sitting in the audience actually get to buy tickets to vote on who they want to win,” Williams said. “And then every ticket purchase that they buy goes toward a raffle, so they’re getting a chance to win one of our door prizes out of it.”
Tickets are $10 each through May 1, and can be purchased online at https://bit.ly/2J68xMF. Tickets also can be purchased for $15 on the day of the event.
All proceeds from Hunks in Heels will benefit Shop With A Cop, which was started in 2003 to help families buy Christmas presents for their children. The program allows police officers to have lunch with children, and gives kids the chance to tour police cars, fire trucks, ambulances and other emergency vehicles like the Rescue 7 helicopter.
At the end of the day, officers meet the children at Walmart to take them shopping for Christmas gifts.
“It’s something that everybody enjoys – all the officers enjoy it because they see so much heartache throughout the year,” Williams said. “It’s their chance to give back, and that’s what they really enjoy.”
Valerie Wilson, executive director of the Petal Area Chamber of Commerce, said she's glad to see people come out to the beauty pageant to support Shop With A Cop.
"We all understand that's a great opportunity for children in Petal to mix and mingle with the police officers and have a wonderful time," she said. "Personally, last year I was able to go with my Little Brother and Little Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Pine Belt to Shop With A Cop.
"And that gave me a completely different viewpoint and opened my eyes to how important that particular program is, and how these children absolutely need that program. It was wonderful, it really was. The kids enjoyed being with their cops, and they enjoyed the opportunity to shop and it was just a very heartwarming experience. So anything we can do to continue that program and have people in our area support it, I'm all about that."
Williams said because Hunks in Heel’s is the police department’s largest fundraiser, Shop With A Cop wouldn’t be possible without it.
“(Shop With A Copy) is well-loved by the community, the officers, and of course the children that it benefits,” she said. “And we’ve actually seen the program work, because we don’t just hand out presents – we actually spend time with them.
“We were involved in a call where one of the kids, who in the past was a Shop With A Cop participant, was trying to run away from home. The officer that responded was actually his cop that he shopped with, and they already had that bond. So he was able to talk to him as a friend, and not a cop to a kid. So we’ve seen that it works, and that just makes it all that more beneficial to us and the community.”