By Maddy Vitale
They strutted, sauntered, scooted and did their best sashays holding heavy hams.
But in the end, there could be only one Mr. Mature America – one senior who proved to the judges and the audience that filled the Music Pier Saturday night – that you are never too old show ’em what you got.
Contestants ranged in age from 58 to 73. The contestant who took home the sash and crown, was Bill Quain, 65, of Ocean City, who played the ukulele and sang “On The Way To Cape May.”
“I had a really good feeling about it,” Quain, a father of two, said of his win, while standing alongside his wife Jeanne. “I just liked everyone so much. The other guys were so good to me.”
Quain, who is blind, was assisted on and off the stage by a woman. When he answered a pageant question about something he has learned in life, he said that having a disability, he sometimes forgets other people have problems too. It is something he should be mindful of, he said. His remarks were met by loud applause.
When it came to the top guys, the locals won out. Contestant John Walton, 61, of Ocean City, who wore a blue robe, pulled out a puppet and sang the Beatles tune from the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” was first runner up.
Second runner up Joel Fogel, 73, of Somers Point, entertained the audience with his classical piano performance and during his interview said the most exciting thing he has ever done was riding his motorcycle to Alaska.
TV personality Erik Estrada, 69, best known for his role on the police show “CHiPS” from the 1977-83, combined the perfect blend of finesse, suaveness and comedy as master of ceremonies, joking with the contestants and flashing that perfect smile. At times, he did a bit of hip movements that sent some audience members into laughter and there was that occasional face-fanning.
Estrada had some definite competition when it came to smooth moves, when reigning Mr. Mature America 2017 Matthew Allen, 65, of Newtown, Pa. performed Frank Sinatra’s hit, “The Way You Look Tonight.”
As Allen’s last encore as title holder was coming to an end, he glided across the stage with some ballroom dance moves.
Audience members swooned.
Earlier, however, Allen brought back the act that helped him become Mr. Mature America. He performed “I Got You Babe” doing both Sonny and Cher renditions.
Throughout the night, Estrada entertained the audience with laughter and a lot of off-the-cuff jokes.
After contestant Jay Keally, 59, of Ocean City recited a poem about love, Estrada asked the audience, “Does anyone need a hug after contestant 2?”
Pageant Director Michael Hartman, who is Ocean City’s special events coordinator, said of the day which began with the jam-packed successful Doo-Dah Parade of which Estrada was the Grand Marshal.
“We really ushered in 2018 season here in Ocean City. I think everyone was ready for sun and fun,” Hartman said.
He added that Estrada’s manager told him that the Mr. Mature America contest was tailor-made for him to host. “He asked if we make it up for him,” Hartman said of the show which is in its fifth year.
Earlier in the night, Mayor Jay Gillian presented Estrada with a piece of the Boardwalk as a memento of being in Ocean City. Estrada said he loves it in Ocean City and has enjoyed his visit.
Ocean City residents Nancy Wilson and Bonnie Cotellese have been coming to the show every year since the beginning because it is so much fun.
“It is very entertaining. There are a lot of laughs,” Wilson said.
Cotellese added, “It is great entertaining. It is just very enjoyable.”