OCEAN CITY — Miss South Shore Area Anna Negron, of Vineland, won the talent portion of the first night of preliminary competition Thursday in the Miss New Jersey Pageant.

“I’m very humbled, very honored,” she said after winning the contest at the Music Pier for her rendition of “My Man.”

Negron, 21, is a fan of Barbara Streisand, who first sang the song.

“Barbra Streisand is a legend, and it’s an honor to be recognized for my vocal talents singing that song,” said Negron, who is making her third trip to the Miss New Jersey Pageant.

Thursday was the start of competition for the 23 contestants who have come from across the state hoping to be the next title holder and go on to compete in September’s Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City.

Among the other winners Thursday was Miss Coastal Shore Courtney Fairfield, of Egg Harbor Township, in the evening wear competition. There was a tie in the swimsuit portion between Miss Seashore Line Kaitlyn Schoeffel, also of Egg Harbor Township, and Miss Gateway Krysten Moore, of Mahwah.

The women are being judged in two groups Thursday and tonight, and then the winner will be selected by a six-judge panel on Saturday night.

During the preliminaries, current Miss New Jersey Lindsey Petrosh questioned the women on stage about their platforms. Miss Cape May County Lauren Fogarty, of Marmora, spoke about her work to help lymphoma and leukemia sufferers. She has helped raise thousands of dollars, which she hopes will be used to conduct clinical trials to find a cure.

Miss Stars and Stripes Venessa Baez, of Bloomfield, works for veterans issues. “We as a society need to be proud to welcome them home,” she said of the need to value returning veterans and their service.

One number featured Petrosh in a surrey driven onstage by Bucks County, Pa., resident Nick Chrostowski, 18.

Chrostowski was visiting Ocean City’s Boardwalk for senior week when representatives of the pageant asked if he’d like to be part of a pageant video. He agreed and then got to take part in the stage production with Petrosh on Thursday night.

“It’s a good memory. Completely unexpected,” Chrostowski said of his turn on stage.

Thursday’s production also included several musical numbers by the contestants, all greeted enthusiastically by the audience that filled the pier.

The opening number featured a dance to Whitney Houston’s “I’m Every Woman” in a nod to New Jersey entertainers such as Houston.

The winner of the night’s parade award was Miss Gloucester County Kelcie Klaus, of Pittman. The community service award went to Miss Cape Shores Cierra Kaler-Jones, of Galloway Township.

Senior copy editor for the Press of Atlantic City. Have worked as a reporter, copy editor and news editor with the paper since 1985. A graduate of the University of Delaware.