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Englewood Cliffs Residents Reflects On Ms. United States Win

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Englewood Cliffs resident Graziella Barratta returned from Las Vegas this week as the newly crowned winner of the Ms. United States 2008 pageant.

Barratta said she couldn't believe she won when they called her name.

"I actually looked around for a little bit and was like, was that me?" she said. "I think I was surprisingly calm. I just took it all in and really enjoyed my first walk as Ms. United States. I was so excited."

Baratta won the title in Las Vegas on July 17th. She is a two-time Miss New Jersey and has competed in pageants all her life.

Family members said she was born to compete in contests like Ms. United States.

"She's always like loved to be the center of attention, always dancing, very outgoing, love to speak to people," said Liana Baratta, Graziella's sister.

Her mother, Anna Baratta, said Graziella took advantage of every opportunity to perform.

"Every holiday that we had in the home or every occasion that we had, she would dance and put on a show," she said.

Along with the title of Ms. United States, Baratta brought home lots of prizes, including cash, jewelry, and $25,000 in free dental work. But she says more importantly the exposure from this title will help her do more charity work and advance her career as dancer and personal image consultant.

"People just kind of give you a little extra look now that you have a different title, and it kind of makes you unique," she said.

Baratta was born and raised in Cliffside Park. But in the pageant she represented New York, where she went college and works. But she says she feels a special connection to Englewood Cliffs, where her neighbors and friends were waiting outside her home to congratulate her on her crown.

"I found so many residents from my town, just out front for me, and I was really touched by that," Baratta said. "And I'm really proud to represent Englewood Cliffs, and I intend to make them proud this year."

Barratta says she is probably done with pageants for now. But she says when the time comes she'll be shooting for the title of Mrs. United States.

- Jon Weinstein ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP