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Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011
*hat courtesy of "ME!"

Holiday Season 2011-12

Well, it is hard to believe another year has passed but I look at the calendar and I must admit that it is so! I also must admit that 2011 did not start off quite the way I hoped it would. Shortly after New Year's Day, I was admitted to the hospital with sepsis. After about a week the doctors found the correct antibiotic and I was released. A full recovery took awhile, so I was forced to miss my trip to the 90th anniversary Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas, and some other events! But, no matter, other adventures (some quite unexpected lay ahead.

Figure Skating

First on the agenda was a return to the world of figure skating. I had not attended a performance of the"Stars On Ice" tour for a few years --and I had not seen my good friend, Kurt Browning for about six years. When I heard Kurt was returning to the tour for its 25th Anniversary, I knew the time was right for me to return as well. Kurt and I enjoyed a wonderful reunion. It was great to see him, as I expected! What I didn't expect was the warm family-reunion type feeling that surrounded the entire event. Seeing old buddies like Debi Thomas, Rosalynn Sumners , Tanith Belbin, Ben Agosto, Jamie Sale... And others was truly special! As you can see at http://www.jhbonline.net/sk8/id11.html
I sincerely thank David Baden and David Hoffis of IMG for helping to make such a great weekend possible!
I am now looking forward to the 2012 tour as I recently discovered that Kurt Browning will not only be starring in but also Co-Directing the upcoming shows as well, so I know it will be great! If you want more info, please check out: http://starsonice.com

Actually, I received the news about Kurt from the tour's other Co-Director, Jef Billings at Skate America International in Ontario , California in October 2011. The fact that the first event of figure skating's Grand Prix Series was being held about twenty miles from our home was one of those unexpected events I wrote about early. In Ontario, Mom and I reconnected with more old skating friends and witnessed fabulous performances by Alyssa Czisny (2-time U.S. Ladies Champion ); Meryl Davis & Charlie White (2011 U.S. & World Ice Dance Champs & 2010 Olympic Silver Medalists) and others. It was the first skating competition we have attended since 2006, and it was nice to be back!


Some of the reason for our time away from Skating, has been our exciting involvement in the world of pageants. In 2011, everyone seemed to be celebrating some sort of Anniversary and the Miss USA pageant was no exception. It has been 60 years since Jackie Loughery, of New York, was crowned the first Miss USA in Long Beach, California. In June of 2011, titleholders representing each decade since descended upon Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, along with 51 amazing young women vying to succeed them, and quite a number of enthusiastic pageant fans -- like me! Thanks to the incredible Maureen Atwell and her amazing staff at True Beauty Events, we all mixed, mingled, partied and bonded during the days and nights leading up to the crowning of Miss USA 2011.
See the fun at: http://www.jhbonline.net/pageants/id43.html
I nervously watched as dear friends representing Nevada, Arizona, Montana , Maine, and Florida, etc, proudly competed for the title. But the most exciting moment came as my buddy, Alyssa Campanella , Miss California-USA was crowned Miss USA 2011!!! In fact, I was still shaking when Alyssa came over
to greet me during her first official press conference! It was an evening I will never forget! Since then, not only, has my friendship with Alyssa grown even stronger (Alyssa even shared her Miss USA crown with me at her gala homecoming at the spectacular W Hotel in Hollywood), but I have been blessed with the friendship of her mother, Anne-Marie and other family members!
Please see http://www.jhbonline.net/pageants/id45.html

I look forward to hanging out with my wonderful friends at the Miss Universe Organization at various events during the coming year!

TV & MORE...

While at Miss USA, I received some wonderful invitations that landed Mom & I on the sets of some popular TV shows! The first one came from Rachel Smith, Miss USA 2007. Rachel is currently co-host of "On The Red Carpet," a weekly entertainment news series, produced by KABC news in Glendale, Ca.
We got a fantastic tour of the ABC news & weather facilities, as you can see:
http://jhbonline.net/tv/id30.html Thanks, Rachel !

The second invitation came from our great friend, Linda Rondinella-Osgood. Linda is an extremely talented make-up artist, who works on the Miss USA & Miss Universe telecasts, but she has also worked on one of my favorite shows, "General Hospital!"
We had a great day at GH ! Highlighted by a wonderful visit with the show's longtime star, Anthony Geary.... And other members of the cast & crew!
So much fun.... In very different way from GH's annual fan gathering!

We returned to the Sportmen's Lodge Hotel for this year's events and Debby O'Connor and her stellar crew at yournumberonefan.com made sure a good time was had by all! No matter which GH star was hosting their particular event laughter and fun ensured. The highlight for me, of course, was "Rick Hearst's Family Dinner" Though, sadly, Rick hasn't appeared on the show in awhile, he was kind enough to gather his fans along with his beautiful family in a true celebration of love and friendship!
You can see photos of all the special moments at

One last surprise for the year came courtesy of yet another thoughtful friend, Jackie Mikulka ...
Mom and Jackie had been visiting one day. Mom told Jackie that she used to walk the dogs of the incomparable actress and animal-lover Betty White many years ago when they worked at the same TV studio. Mom always wished she could re-connect with Ms. White, but an opportunity had never presented itself....
But Jackie is always one to find a way! And so, she arranged for tickets to Betty's current sitcom, "Hot In Cleveland"
After the taping, we all got to spend a few magical moments in the company of the engaging and generous, Miss Betty White!
Thank you, Jackie, for making Mom's dream finally come true!!!!

A huge thank you to all for making 2011 so special! We know we are truly blessed to have friends and family such as yourselves in our lives.

Here's hoping 2012 brings us together for even more wonderful and exciting adventures!!!

Happy Holidays,
The Bakers
John, Joann, and Shandi