By Lorna Nolan
Wednesday August 19 2009
Oh dear Diana, where did you get that hat?
The beautiful Irish hope in the Miss Universe competitiondonned a shamrock-decorated top hat as pageant turned to parody in Paradise Island in the Bahamas early today.
Hotly tipped Diana Donnelly ended up draped in Irish-flag batwings and a Derby O'Gill top hat 'n' shamrock that would make the crowd at a Paddy's Day parade look like catwalk queens.
But Diana, who was installed as one of the favourites almost as soon as contestants gathered, seemed the picture of elegance compared to some of the other spectacles on display.
Cultural stereotypes turned to the hysterical as Miss Holland appeared with giant red, white and blue crepe-paper windmill sails stapled to her back.
Poor Miss Mauritius looked like she'd been dipped in glue and dragged through the jungle, with a skirt seemingly cut from an army surplus camouflage net.
Had the hapless Miss Universe contestants been extras in a Eurovision Song Contest interval, they couldn't have carried off these costumes with a straight face.
In fact, their broad grins, the only thing they wore that didn't look like they were made in a primary school art class, were the best things worn on the night.
But at least Diana has good reason to smile -- she is thrilled after her parents managed to make it to the Bahamas despite swine flu disruptions.
As revealed by the Herald last week, the 20-year-old Dubliner was worried that they wouldn't make it to the final this weekend because of swine flu fears. One contestant's relatives were stopped at customs due to a potential case of the virus.
Authorities on the tropical island are taking the rapid spread of the flu pandemic very seriously, and as a result were forced to stop the mother of one of the beauty pageant contestants upon entering the country.
The woman in question, who displayed symptoms of the illness upon arrival to the island, was brought immediately to one of the medical teams stationed at the ports in the Bahamas and was being treated as a potential swine flu case.
However, Ireland's pageant organiser Andrea Roche confirmed the beauty queen's parents arrived on Saturday afternoon without any problem and are having a ball over there.
"They're having a great time," Andrea told the Herald. "There are a couple of Irish people living over there that they have got friendly with.
"Diana's been swimming with dolphins, been out doing water-sports and done all sorts since she got there, she's genuinely getting on really well with all the girls.
"I was talking to her earlier and she had her interview with the judges on Monday night, which she feels went quite well."
The UCD Commerce graduate has been installed by one bookmaker as the 12/1 joint favourite, along with Miss Honduras, to win the contest.