Gayle Novak, Denver area restaurateur, fund-raiser, wife, mother of six and grandmother of 13 is the 2018 Ms. Colorado Senior America. Novak was one of a dozen talented contestants in the 24th Ms. Colorado Senior America Pageant held May 26 at the Lone Tree Arts Center.

The pageant celebrates women in the “age of elegance,” 60 and above, who capture the joy of living and the disruption of aging. This year’s oldest contestant is a youthful 92.

Contestants compete in four categories: evening gown, philosophy of life, private interview with the panel of judges and talent. Novak wowed the full-house audience with a spirited performance of “Money, Money, Money” from the musical “Mama Mia.”

“I wanted to do something I’d never done before and where age was not a limitation,” said Novak about choosing to participate in the pageant. “And I fell in love with the Cameo Club and how it gives back to the community, elder and young.”

Every pageant participant automatically becomes a member of the Cameo Club, which performs for civic groups, senior homes and other organizations throughout the region. The sisterhood of Cameo Club members also helps contestants prepare for competition and conducts the annual pageant.

“The Cameo Club guided and coached us the past six weeks, teaching use how to walk and talk, and helping us develop our talent,” said Novak.

Raised on a small farm, Novak attended high school and college in Colorado. “I started as a cocktail waitress and 20 years later I became an owner,” said Novak, the former owner of Summit Steak House. She is currently a working partner at Zane’s Italian Bistro, with her son Zane and husband, Ed, former owner of the Broker Restaurant chain.

Novak is also an effective fundraiser who has raised millions of dollars for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Volunteers of America.

As 2018 Ms. Colorado Senior America, Novak looks forward to opportunities to serve the community of elderly and youth. She encourages other women in the “age of elegance” to participant in the pageant.

“You can do it,” she said. “We’ll help you. Don’t let age or fear stop you. Live life out loud. And don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Novak began her reign with an appearance in Denver’s Memorial Day parade. Throughout the year she will appear in variety shows, parades and other area events. She will compete nationally at the Ms. Senior America Pageant in Atlantic City, N.J. in October.

Carolyn Slade Harden, the 2017 national Ms. Senior America, entertained the audience at the May 26 Colorado competition.

Other pageant competitors included first runner up Linda Lister, Ph.D. and second runner up Dee Clark.

For more information on the Ms. Colorado Senior America Pageant and how to participate visit the website at colosramerica.com or contact Colorado State Pageant Administrator Rene Green at renemcsap@gmail.com or 720-384-6249.

[Photo of Gayle Novak courtesy of René Green]