Forecast looks bright for Miss Philadelphia as she returns home to thank special sponsor
aOvLESTOWN – The air was thick with the smell of fresh Italian cooking as newly crowned Miss Philadelphia Francesca Ruscio embraced Frances Grispino in the aisle at Altomonte’s Italian Market and aelicatessen on March 14.
It was a heartfelt homecoming for Ruscio, a 2011 graduate of Central Bucks High School East and a resident of Jamison who grew up visiting the store. She stopped by to thank Grispino and Altomonte’s for sponsoring her in the pageant.
Wearing her signature crown and sash, Ruscio smiled as she recalled her many visits to the store as a youngster and Grispino and the staff offering her Italian cookies.
“This is the store I grew up in,” said Ruscio. “I’ve been coming here since I was very little. The fact that they said yes to sponsoring me in the Miss Philadelphia Pageant meant the world to me. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart,” she said.
Grispino beamed as she posed for pictures with Ruscio next to the store’s Easter display.
“Today for me means a lot because I know this beautiful little girl from the beginning when she was a baby,” said Grispino, who co-owns the market with Maria Nappi. “She looked so beautiful when I see her on Ts the night she was selected Miss Philadelphia. I wish her the best. I love her very much. She’s beautiful. This girl, she’s got everything. So I wish she is going to go Miss America.”
“They couldn’t have chosen a better person,” added Nappi. “We’ve known her since she was a little girl. She’s beautiful from the inside out.”
When they heard she won, Nappi said everyone at the store was “ecstatic. We couldn’t be more proud,” she said. “It’s like a dream. It’s surreal. This little girl that you watched grow up into a beautiful, intelligent woman and to see her with a crown on her head, it’s just beautiful.”
Rusico was crowned “Miss Philadelphia” on March 2 at the Prince Music Theater in Center City. In addition to the title, she took home a $10,000 scholarship to Temple University, where she is sophomore studying broadcast meteorology.
“I did not expect to win at all,” said Ruscio, who competed against 16 other girls. “I put 200 percent into every category. When they called my name, I got so weak in the knees and I just started to cry. I was so excited.”
Rusico said she entered the contest to “explore some boundaries and to see what I could do.
“I wanted to give it a shot. I’m not your typical pageant girl. I’m an athlete,” she said. “But I love the Miss America organization because it promotes the beautiful woman from the inside and out and good morals.”
Rusico will next compete for the title of Miss Pennsylvania in June. If successful, she’ll then turn her attention to the Miss America pageant.
For now, Ruscio is content on being Miss Philadelphia and bringing the crown back to Bucks County.
“It means the world to me,” she said. “I have a lot of family and friends here. And it’s nice to be able to bring something that means the world to you back to where you grew up,” said Ruscio.
Ruscio, diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), will be using her new found platform to spread PCOS awareness.
“If left untreated, it can lead to a lot of severe diseases later on in life, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity and possible infertility,” said Ruscio.
In Ruscio’s case, it was insulin-resistant diabetes. But through healthy lifestyle changes and changes to her diet, she was able to reverse its affects.
“That is the message I am trying to get out to the Philadelphia community and hopefully to the state,” she said.
Ruscio’s long term goal is to attend graduate school, earn her certification in meteorology and to embark on a career as a broadcast meteorologist. Her dream is to one day forecast the weather in the Philadelphia market.
She’s already laying the groundwork for success.
At Temple, she regularly pours over numbers, charts and information from the National Weather Service in compiling the weather report for Temple Update, the university’s student-run television news program. She has also met with and discussed her career aspirations with such Philadelphia Ts notables as aavid Murphy.
“It’s a science I can really relate to honestly,” she says of the weather. “I have known what a cumulonimbus cloud is since the fifth grade. And I was the one not hiding under the bed during a thunderstorm. I had my face pressed up against the window trying to take pictures of lightning.”
As for the future, the forecast appears bright and sunny for Miss Philadelphia judging from the reception she received Thursday from her good friends at Altomonte’s.
*** The Miss Philadelphia Scholarship Organization boasts two Miss Pennsylvania’s and three Miss America’s and is the only local preliminary competition to Miss Pennsylvania and Miss America, the world’s largest scholarship provider to young women.
From left: Altomonte’s owner Frances Grispino, Miss Philadelphia Francesca Ruscio, assistant general manager Robert Carter and Maria Nappi, owner.