After three days of competition, Clermont native Michaela McLean took home the coveted tiara on June 29 as the newest Miss Florida.
Running as Miss Florida Citrus seemed fitting for McLean, whose family has a long history in the regional agricultural industry. Her father is a board member of the Citrus Research and Development Foundation while her uncle is the founder of Uncle Matt’s Organic out of Clermont. In fact, Michaela has worked at the McLean Family Farms U-pick store.
One of 35 contestants, McLean made the top 11 semifinalists along with Miss Polk County, Morgan Boykins, Juliana Fray, Miss Winter Haven; and Amber Boykin, Miss Lakeland.
Also making the final cut was Rachel Barcellona, who made history as the first contestant with autism. Having previously appeared on CNN and People Magazine, Barcellona – whose resume includes speaking to the United Nations about people with autism – drew national media attention, including a crew from NowThis News, a part of the Group Nine Media group owned by Discovery Channel. NowThis News will be including Barcellona’s experiences in Lakeland as part of a documentary on her journey.
Besides the event itself, contestants took part in a downtown lunchtime meet and greet through various businesses. The projected economic impact of the event is $2.2 million; data continues to be collected and analyzed.