Richard Wesley Gant V took it in all stride - the popping flashbulbs, the spirited applause and the wet kisses from admirers.
Dressed in dapper blue overalls, the 4-month-old contestant in the Proud Parent Baby Contest managed to sleep through much of the competition and beamed a toothless grin at the crowd when he accepted his first-placed trophy.
But Ricky's mother, Wanda Gant, was not as calm about her son's victory in the contest recently at the Brookland Union Baptist Church.
"I never won anything in my life, and I want my son to win everything he can," grinned the afternoon's proudest parent. "I think it's fantastic."
Organized as part of the church's annual Woman's Day celebration earlier this month, the Proud Parent Baby Contest focused on bringing young parents together to share in the joys of raising children, according to contest chairwoman Anna Cole. Proceeds went to help finance church missionary activities and to the campaign of Ward 5 city councilman William Spaulding.
Each parent raised money in their son or daughter's name, and the child whose parent collected tha most funds was declared grand prize winner. Winner Ricky Gant's supporters had contributed a total of $225.
Every one of the 12 tots entered toddled away with a prize. There were awards for charm and personality for youngsters up to 5 years old, and a special talent competition for children ages 3 to 5. A panel of 10 judges gauged each child's appearance, dress, personality, behavior and charm in selecting the winner in each category.
Four-year-old Deana Franklin, decked out in yellow from her knee socks to the bows in her hair, won the talent contest by charming the nearly 100 people in the audience with toe-tapping rendition of the gospel song "We're Going to See the King."
Ramont Jamil Hawkins graciously accepted his prize in the 2-year-old category. When reaching for the gaily wrapped musical toothbrush he politely demanded, "Whazzat?"
But the winner of the 1-year-old category, Fawn (We Be A Love Bug) Cothran, was speechless upon accepting her ward as was 11-month-old Arthur Montgomery, winner in the under-one category.
Although Elbert Speed Fortson IV, winner in the 3-to-5-year-old category, proved he was a fine model during talent competition, he confessed afterward that he planned a career as a baseball player.
The excited parents seemed to have the best time at the contest.
"I'm very proud of my daughter," Alicia Thomas said, beaming at her 5-month-old bundle of dynamite, Tabitha Nanette (T.N.T.) Thomas. "I hope this is the first many successful contests."