Our Community - Marisa Salazar - "Setting her sights on the stars"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 29            August 1, 2002

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Marisa Salazar

With the International Costa Maya Festival just around the corner, many who are anxiously awaiting the commencement of this one-of-a-kind event are experiencing a strong feeling of excitement. Much effort is needed to put together a festival of such great caliber as the Costa Maya Festival. Yet every year the dedicated team who form the festival committee manages to put it together with style. There are many people who work behind the scenes ensuring that all the details are perfected, whether it is the cultural presentations, the music or the pageant. The Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant is an event in itself and one that involves a lot of planning and coordinating. It is with that in mind that we are pleased to feature a hard working member of the committee who has been the backbone of the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant - Marisa Salazar.

Marisa was born in San Pedro on January 22nd, 1973 to Neydi and Eiden Salazar Sr. She grew up with a brother and two sisters enjoying the simple pleasures that this island had to offer. As a student, Marisa was very polite to her teachers and peers at San Pedro Roman Catholic School and San Pedro High School from where she graduated as an Academic student in 1989. A studious young woman, Marisa then enrolled at St. John's College Junior College in Belize City graduating with an Associate's Degree in Liberal Arts (General Studies) in 1991. Following this, Marisa spent the next year with family in Merida, Mexico.

Upon her return to San Pedro, Marisa went to work in the family business - Super Jenny's Store before becoming employed at Rock's Inn. Marisa then moved on to Casa Caribe Resort where she worked as a bookkeeper for some time. When Social Security opened its branch in San Pedro, Marisa was hired to work as inspector, a post she held for two years. Although Marisa performed very well in all her occupations, she felt her place was helping her family and decided to re-join her mom and dad as the hostess at Fantasy Garden Restaurant.

Marisa was introduced to the Costa Maya Festival when it was still known as Sea and Air Festival. At the time, the pageant was more of an informal, beach-type affair. She recalls first becoming involved in 1996 when the festival's name was changed and a new concept for the pageant was born. The new committee was looking for something more formal for the occasion and came up with the name Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant. This committee invited contestants from Honduras, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Belize with previous pageant experience. As an active member of the committee, Marisa headed the pageant sub-committee and worked diligently to give the festival-goers a first-class event. She first investigated and then contacted the national coordinators of the five countries. After confirming a contestant, she prepared an itinerary for them while in San Pedro. Marisa and the Costa Maya Committee were able to stage an elegant Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant, for the first time leaving the crowd in awe. The first year was a learning experience for Marisa and the committee but they have perfected the event over the years. Today, thanks to Marisa's great coordinating skills and her support from the rest of the committee, the Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant has become a highlight of the festival where beauty, glamour and international conductors take center stage.

Although the Costa Maya Festival is now held only four days of the year, the preparation of an event of this type is time consuming. To relax from work and other business, Marisa says she enjoys reading and traveling to new places where she can meet different types of people and make friends. Most recently, Marisa had the distinct pleasure of meeting one of the most celebrated beauty ambassadors of Latin America - Lupita Jones. Marisa met with the ex-Miss Universe during the Nuestra Belleza Quintana Roo Pageant held in Chetumal, Mexico on July 20th, 2002. Coincidentally, at the same pageant Marisa became re-acquainted with last year's Reina de la Costa Maya Pageant conductor, Valentin Lanus who was there as a judge.

On Thursday, August 15th if you happen to be enjoying the pageant at this year's festival, take a moment to acknowledge the work and dedication of those working behind the scenes who make it all possible. It is because of their great desire to stage the best possible event in Belize, that people like Marisa Salazar deserve a standing ovation for great leadership and for planning special events in "Our Community."

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