Winter Carnival

Every outfit had a story Thursday night at the Snowflake Costume Fashion Show at the Boscov’s auditorium at the Fairlane Village mall.

The 17 high school juniors competing in the 50th annual Greater Pottsville Winter Carnival carefully picked out what they wore Thursday to express their personalities and impress the judges.

But first, each contestant came on stage and pulled a random question for the 2016 Snowflake Princess Rachael Cataldo to ask them.

In response to what superpower she would choose to have, Kathryn McCarthy, Mahanoy Area, said she would like the ability to fly.

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“It would be neat to see the world from a new perspective,” McCarthy said.

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She later came out dressed in black with a gold skirt to represent the “golden anniversary” of the Winter Carnival. She also is a cheerleader for the Mahanoy Area Golden Bears and a member of the golf team, she said.

“I have a golden love for the sport because of my dad,” she said. “He’s my biggest fan.”

McCarthy said that the Winter Carnival is an experience she will never forget.

“The memories and friends I made here will stay with me through my golden years,” she said.

Corrine Ellis, Minersville, was asked what she would tell her younger self if she could travel through time.

“The advice I would give to myself would be to be more involved in extracurricular activities,” she said.

Ellis later appeared on stage with a ukulele and performed a song that she wrote.

“Recently, I decided to write a song and with my sister’s help, we came up with the melody,” Ellis said.

Ellis said that her melody in life is the many activities she is involved in, like cheerleading and cross country, while her family and friends are her harmony.

“With those two things together, every day is a song and my life is an entire symphony,” she said.

Samantha Puzzi, Blue Mountain, was asked about the one place in the county she would take a family member or friend visiting the area for the first time.

“I would take them to Hawk Mountain because it is one of my favorite places in Schuylkill County, and I believe it is where you can really appreciate the beauty of Schuylkill County,” Puzzi said.

Puzzi then came back on stage wearing cheap wedding dresses coat and black slacks. She recited a quote from Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for women’s education who was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 at the age of 17, and said that she inspired her to pursue a career in politics.

“She has inspired me to not just go into my career field but to help others while I do it,” she said.

Kassandra Kuperavage, Pottsville, was asked to tell the audience about a quality that sets her a part from her friends.

“The one quality that sets me a part from my friends is definitely being more outgoing and always being on the move and always getting my group of friends involved in things,” Kuperavage said.

She later showed off various shoes as they pertain to her life. She brought her sneakers for volleyball, the cleats she wore when she had the game-winning hit in a 13-inning game against Pine Grove, and the shiny silver heels she will be wearing at the coronation pageant.

“No matter the outcome, this experience will truly be one I don’t forget,” she said. “Thank you Winter Carnival for 50 years of memories.”

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What wedding?

It wasn't until after another routine opening-round beatdown that Serena Williams offered a startling glimpse into the ruthlessly compartmentalized mindset that accompanies her to the Grand Slams.

She was engaged recently to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, but said she wasn't going to fully process the life-changing, milestone event -- until February.


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"I guess it feels good," Williams said in her postmatch press conference. "I really haven't thought about it too much, because I wasn't even really going to think about it until after the tournament.

"I just kept saying that February I'll start looking at the bigger picture of my life."

For now, the smaller picture is winning a seventh title at the Australian Open.

The evidence, the early returns of the nascent 2017 season, suggested Serena's first-round match would be taxing.

Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic was a top-10 player a year ago, but injuries contrived to leave her unseeded here at the Australian Open. They had split their previous two meetings and, considering Serena's advanced age (35), there was some plausibility in those questions echoing around the grounds at Melbourne Park.

With temperatures creeping into the mid-90s Tuesday, Williams burned even hotter, comfortably ruining Bencic 6-4, 6-3 at Rod Laver Arena.

Shame on all the cynics, the skeptics, the haters -- and you know who you are -- who doubted Serena's motivation. By now, after all these years, we shouldn't be terribly surprised.

There were questions about her extended offseason as well as her work ethic and preparedness after going out early in Auckland, New Zealand, and committing a zany 88 unforced errors.

We can report (this just in) that Williams is now a tidy 65-1 in first-round matches at Grand Slams. And while there are wildly differing qualities of victory, mark this one in the category of surpassingly solid.

Serena repeatedly bludgeoned Bencic's not-good-enough serve, taking some first offerings from a position a foot inside the baseline. The second serve?

Don't ask.

Williams made a handful of sublime shots, including a running, sliced backhand winner late in the first set that had no business landing in the court.

"I didn't come here to lose in the first round, or the second round, or at all," Williams said in her pretournament news conference. "If I can play the way I've been practicing, it will be fine."

Sure enough, that's just what happened. We should have known.

Serena, a six-time Aussie Open champion, has developed a remarkable reputation here. Since 1999, she has never lost before the third round.

Losing to Angelique Kerber here in last year's final set in motion her season-long struggle to maintain the No. 1 ranking. If she can get to the final here, she'll have a chance to reclaim it. Kerber, for the record, looked a little sketchy Monday, dropping a set on her way to the second round.

Serena's second-round match Thursday, naturally, seems fraught with all kinds of peril. She'll play 2015 French Open finalist Lucie Safarova, also a one-time Wimbledon semifinalist and Australian Open quarterfinalist.

Safarova, for what it's worth, should have a healthy supply of belief after saving a staggering nine match points in her first-round victory over Yanina Wickmayer.

Yes, the sky is falling all over again. How can Serena possibly rise to yet another potentially daunting occasion?

Clearly, she lives for this kind of shrill hysteria.

"Right now," she said, "I'm just so focused that this is kind of all I can think about."

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