By Maddy Vitale
Perhaps it was the crushed velvet cranberry color suit jacket, or the song and dance routine to an ’80s dance mix complete with an entourage.
Whatever the reasons, Richie Flemming, 17, of Upper Township, had it all. He wowed the judges and the crowd to become the 2019 Mr. OCHS on Friday night.
During the show, Richie and nine other contestants entertained the audience, bringing them to hysterical laugher, cheers and applause.
There was the formal wear competition, the personality interview, a fitness competition, talent competition and casual wear segment.
The opening dance set the tone for the night, when 10 young guys strutted their stuff in animated fashion, sending the audience into applause. And that was just the beginning of a very lively night.
After Richie was crowned by 2018 Mr. OCHS TJ Rumer, he and the other contestants remained on stage for photos and then went off to their family and friends.
“I’m overwhelmingly happy,” Richie said in an interview with his family alongside him.
Richie, a tennis player, has plans to go to college for interior design. He said what he enjoyed the most about the Mr. OCHS experience was getting to know everyone.
“We worked for three weeks every day for two hours a day,” he noted of rehearsals.
His parents, Luisa and Rich Flemming, sister, and other family and friends joined him and clicked cellphone pictures with the new crown-wearer.
“He has worked so hard,” Luisa Flemming said of her son.
Other winners of the night were Evan Holmes, 17, of Upper Township, the first runner-up, and Nate Young, the second runner-up. People’s Choice went to Sean Roop.
Evan’s mother, Amy Holmes, said he is the third generation who has attended the Ocean City schools. He was excited about participating in the contest.
During Evan’s talent portion, he sang about Chick-fil-A with a person dressed as a cow next to him. The audience erupted in laughter at his rendition.
“He has practiced for two weeks on that song,” Holmes said. “It is hysterical.”
The other contestants included Zac Clark, Sam Oliva, Luke Leonetti, Thai Punthrangkul, Hunter Paone and Trevor Paone.
Throughout the night Master of Ceremonies, John Bruno joked with the contestants and kept everything running smoothly. Students Ava Cozamanis, Carli Kelly and Serena Lin conducted the introductions of the contestants.
The winners received gifts supplied by local businesses. Donations of tuxedos and other things were provided by local businesses. The Ocean City High School cheerleaders helped organize the event, which is for seniors and is in its 31st year.
The judges were Connor Brady and Ocean City Councilmen Antwan McClellan and Michael DeVlieger, who is also an owner of OCNJDaily.com. Both McClellan and Brady are former Mr. OCHS winners.