If the winner of this year’s Ms. Senior Florida Pageant can’t compete in October for the Ms. Senior America crown, the next in-line will be a well-known name in Opa-locka: former city commissioner Rose Tydus.
Looking back at the last three months — the practice, singing, dancing and driving back and forth between Miami and Vero Beach where the competitions was hosted — Tydus, 69, said that she’s open to the idea of competing again next year.
She said the competition gave her an opportunity to speak out on behalf of seniors.
“Old age is a time where we should be taking care of ourselves and we are not doing that,” Tydus said. “In senior community, especially in the African-American community, we’re taking care of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. It’s not the season for that.”
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It’s been four years since Tydus has held political office in Opa-locka. Since then, she has dedicated herself to working with young people and advocating for her age group.
The Ms. Senior America Pageant, according to state director Hedi Headly, isn’t so much about outer beauty but inner beauty, and most importantly, to reinvigorate women like Tydus, who aren’t ready to slow down.
“Most of the ladies have never been in front of an audience before,” said Headly, who has managed the Florida competition for four years, and before then worked with the Arizona pageant for 12 years.
With some help from talent and music directors, from January to March, the 13 Florida contestants rehearsed and perfected their talent and reciting their philosophy of life.
“Rose wrote an original song and the judges loved it,” Headly said. Tydus also won “Best Talent” at the competition.
Finishing second in the pageant, Tydus appeared to be in her element throughout the competition.
Before she served as Opa-locka’s first black city clerk from 1976 to 1984, and then as commissioner from 2000 to 2012, Tydus was a woman from Wisconsin looking to get into show business. And before that, when she was child, she wanted to be a Mouseketeer in the Mickey Mouse Club. “But I knew it was a long shot because of my skin color,” she said. (She still has what she calls a “Mickey Mouse shrine” of pictures, dolls and stuffed animals in her living room, however.)
It was dancing that took Tydus away from home, to New York, then Atlantic City in New Jersey and finally to South Florida in the 1970s. That was around the time she dropped her career as a chorus line dancer and moved into government.
“I gave my life to the Lord in 1975,” Tydus said. “Giving up dancing was a battle for me.”
As runner-up to 2016 Ms. Senior Florida winner Donna Dean of Port St. Lucie, Tydus will be crucial in spreading the pageant’s values down in South Florida until the final competition in October.
And she’s already working on a song for next year. “I’ve never been a quitter,” she said, adding that there’s still hope for this year. “Last year, the winner dropped out.”