After a year off, Penticton’s biggest beach party returned with a bang Sunday on the sandy shores of Skaha Lake.
Unplanned, although not totally unexpected — at least for those who know him — the unofficial theme of the 29th JCI Penticton Mr. Muscle and Miss Bikini competition turned out to be: Go with the Flo.
Flo, whose actual name is Banctel Florent, was one of the competitors in the Mr. Muscle event (yes Mr. Muscle) and turned out to be a crowd pleaser from the moment he stepped from the beverage garden.
Clad only in very short, very tight, although perfectly hemmed denim cutoffs, the bearded character entertained the appreciative crowd throughout the afternoon.
His antics included some creative dance, a professional wrestling demonstration and even a horizontal conga line, with participants passing human cargo hand to hand to the back of the pack.
Sadly, despite the efforts of the chanting crowd of supporters, at the end of the day he did not make it into the top five finishers.
The title of Mr. Muscle actually went to Kelowna’s Jared Kittlitz, who edged out defending champion Chris Schulte of Surrey, who finished third, and runner-up Shane Ekeli of Vancouver.
On the women’s side, it was sultry Nikita Kiceluk of Summerland who wowed the six-member, male judging panel.
Runner-up was the energetic and provocative Michelle Quesnel of Penticton ,who coincidently was (really) enjoying her stagette party with a group of (really) happy friends. Penticton’s Candace DeLeeww was third.
Kiceluk, who took home first place prize money of $500, admitted she was a little surprised with the win, and at the time had other things on her mind.
“Really, I’m late for work. I started at six so I had to call them and tell them I won so I’ll be late,” said the server who is employed at a waterfront restaurant in Summerland.
“This is my first time in this competition, but I compete in body building competitions in the bikini class so I’m kind of used to it.”
Kiceluk noted she doesn’t find such events offensive to women.
“To be honest, the way that I see it, it’s all to do with having fun and cheering on beautiful women, and if you find it degrading, then maybe it’s not for you,” she said. “But I’m just here to have a good time. My dad supports me, and if he supports me, then I have fun with it.”
The men’s winner agreed.
“I’m getting ready for a show later this year, so I decided just for fun I would come out and see what this was like — and surprise, I won,” said Kittlitz. “To be honest with you, I would have been happy just to be in the top five, and now I may have to come back and defend my title.”
Schulte, who finished in the money for the second time in a row in the Mr. Muscle division, was glad to see its return.
“I come to Penticton at this time every year. I just love the weather and the beach and I really missed it last year,” said the Surrey resident. “The people of Penticton are great and it’s a really laid-back lifestyle, just a lot of fun.”
The runners-up pocketed $250 and third place $125. Those cash prizes were donated by Parkers Chrysler.
According to committee member Ryan Sirianni of the JCI, the afternoon was a huge success.
“I know we had full compliments from the public, the police and everybody that attended had a good time,” he said. “Being that we took last year off, the momentum was still pretty good.”
He was not aware of any major incidents and expressed his appreciation to both the City of Penticton and the RCMP for their support of the event.
Accolades also went out to the many volunteers and sponsors for their support.
As well, this year there were two other competitions: a wet T-shirt contest for the ladies and a feats of strength match for both sexes presented by The Gym.
Kris Nicholas was the male winner and Kim Laevens was the best female.
Toni Woodside collected $300 as the tops in the T-shirt, with Katie McIntyre picking up $200 for second and Stephanie Crumback $100 for third.
The prize money was donated by Big Jay Concrete.
JCI officials are hoping to celebrate 30 years with another competition in 2013.