Mr. Panther: Season 17

courtesy of Ethan Thresher
Larry Ewell III smiling for the camera as he gets showered in rose pedals

by Chandler Patrick, Editor-in-Chief

Cheesy pick-up lines, incredible talents, and a ton of hard work and dedication were all elements of this year’s annual Mr. Panther pageant. Taking on a Bachelor-esque theme this year, Thursday, Feb. 16 marked the race for that coveted final rose. With many sponsors, wonderful judges, and some seriously unique contestants, to say  ‘Season 17’ of Mr. Panther was a success would be an understatement.
“Some of [the other guys] were my best friends, some were just friends, and some I didn’t even know but this whole thing brought us closer together and thanks to them I had an incredible time,” says senior contestant Will MacDonald.
The show was hosted by Hannah Slattery and Jillian Thomas, who gave great style and elegance to the show. They introduced the wonderful judges: Alex Cheney, Talent Aquisition Coordinator for Cirque du Soleil; Steele Hendershot, a board member of Rising Star Outreach and owner of Gravady Extreme Air Sports; Jennifer Selznick, a dedicated mother, wife, and active organization participant; and Ricardo Laguna, “The King of Dirt” and the #1 Latin and South American Dirt Jumper in the world. Some of the sponsors for the fundraising raffles included Gravady, Fabulous Freddy’s Car Wash, and Ethan Thresher Videography.
With a fully packed theater and anticipation in the air, the most elegant and eligible seniors took the stage. Nathan Lurie aka Mr. Hot Cross Buns, Grant Tingey aka Mr. Curly Top, Maximilian Wilde aka Mr. Steal Your Username, Nikko Escobar aka Mr. Hawaii Five-O, Addison Frederick aka Mr. 6’4, Daniel Steffan aka Mr. Danny Pack, Austin Shanks aka Mr. Simba Shanks, Larry Ewell aka Mr. Swipe Right, Joshua Horn aka Mr. Sorry, I’m Taken, and Will MacDonald aka Mr. Tarzan were the lucky senior boys competing. As they performed their opening number to today’s most hit songs, it was clear the talent and hard-work they had put into the show.
“A big part of being a senior is having fun with friends and this is such a good way to do it,” says the suave Mr. Danny Pack.
Following this was the classic swimsuit and pick-up line walk. Classic pickup lines like “People call me Josh, but you can call me tonight” to more interesting and creative ones, like “Hey baby, is your name Zelda? Because you’re a legend.” Even a kiss was snuck in by Mr. Curly Top, wooing the audience and really getting the night going.
An introduction video of the contestants was played and then following was the start of the first five acts. Mr. Hot Cross Buns came out swimming –literally– in a creative synchronized swimming skit involving part of a pool cover and a mattress. Mr. Curly top flipped all over the stage in a sumo wrestler outfit, singing along to “I’ll Make A Man Out Of You” from Disney’s Mulan. Mr. Steal Your Username showed us his interesting hacking skills, and Mr. Hawaii Five-O stunned the crowd in an epic lightsaber showdown. Lastly for the first half, Mr. Danny Pack showcased a smooth and romantic piano show that really put you back in that roaring time period.
“Competing meant being with friends, which was the reason I was doing it in the first place. I grew super close with those nine other guys and that was definitely the best part of the experience,” says Daniel Steffan.
Intermission took place, where the audience could sign up for raffles, gift packages, and a chance to win a framed picture of the contestants.
The last five acts commenced, with Mr. Simba Shanks performing his original rap song, Mr. Swipe Right showing us the dances through the decades, and Mr. Sorry, I’m Taken performing “Popular” from Wicked with his girlfriend, Alexis Lloyd. Finally, Mr. Tarzan brought out his dancing skills, performing with Sydney Whiting and a cast of friends to Mama Mia!
“At first I was scared of losing, like I would disappoint people or even myself. But, as it got closer and closer during the show, I just realized it was all for fun and that I just needed to do my best,” says Mr. Tarzan.
With all of the performances and charming personalities now swarming in the audience’s minds, the judges took on their deliberation as another video, shot reality-show style, was played for the audience.
The moment everyone had been waiting all night for had finally arrived, as the top five contestants were announced and awarded roses. From there, Mr. Swipe Right, Larry Ewell, won third, Mr. Curly Top, Grant Tingey, won second, and Mr. Danny Pack, Daniel Steffan, was awarded the coveted final rose and this year’s Mr. Panther title.
Season 17 of the Mr. Panther contest was a huge hit, providing another memorable and fun experience to those seniors about to take on the real world.  
“Winning was great just because all my buds from all over crowded me with hugs. What a great way to end a night: with the people that got me there!” says Steffan.