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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013 5 years ago

'The Bachelor': Hometown girl looks for love on national stage

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Father Lopez graduate Jackie Parr received a rose Monday night, meaning she’ll survive at least another week on ABC’s “The Bachelor.”

BY MIKE CAVALIERE | ASSOCIATE EDITOR

For the 17th season premier of ABC’s “The Bachelor,” Ormond Beach’s Dawn Parr organized about 80 people to meet at a Port Orange restaurant for a viewing party — but not because she’s a fan of the show.

Normally, she barely even watches, Parr admits. But this season is different. This season, her daughter, Jackie, is one of the girls competing for the bachelor’s heart.

“It was great,” Parr said, “just having everyone there to support her. Jackie was shocked. She was expecting more like 15 (people).”

With a projector, they blew up the TV’s picture onto a wall. Old friends from childhood came to watch. Parr, along a handful of others, wore Team Jackie shirts, which she had made before the first airing and gave out as Christmas gifts.

And each time Jackie appeared onscreen, the whole room erupted in cheers.

The party was so lively, in fact, that even with the screen blown up and the sound turned loud, barely anybody followed the story. This wasn’t about the show. It was about Jackie.

“I actually had to go home and watch it again,” Parr laughed.

A graduate of Father Lopez High School, Jackie Parr, now 25, grew up in Ormond. And although she now lives in Boynton Beach, where she’s a cosmetologist, she feels like having roots in this city has made her experience even more rewarding.

“It’s very surreal,” she said, “and really cool, because Ormond is a small town and I have a lot of friends over there. So a lot of friends from high school are coming together now to watch every week.”

But, according to Jackie’s mom, a lot of those same friends were shocked to hear Jackie was even on the show in the first place. Even though she danced in Father Lopez’s championship modern dance squad, Jackie was always known as the quiet girl.

“The interesting thing for most people who knew Jackie in high school was that Jackie was very shy — very shy,” Dawn Parr said. “But she’s really probably one of the funniest people that I know.”

Once you get to know her, she added, Jackie’s got a huge personality. Still, she couldn’t help but give her daughter some parental guidance before she took the national stage. Don’t be negative, she told her. Don’t drink too much.

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Jackie was convinced by her friends to make and submit an audition video to the show — you know, as a joke. The bachelor of this season was also a contestant in a previous season of “The Bachelorette.” And Jackie always had a crush on him.

The joke got serious, though, after Jackie got a call back from the crew. Before she knew it, she was taking personality tests and meeting with private investigators. Then, out of thousands of applicants, she was flown to Los Angeles with 49 other girls and, finally, chosen for the show’s Top 25.

“We sent in a video, not taking it seriously, and it kind of took off from there,” Jackie Parr said. “It became really real, and I didn’t have anything to lose.”

But, in her eyes, she had much to gain. She believes in the show’s process, she says, because she’s seen it work before. And once she arrived on set and they started shooting, she was surprised at how much emotion welled up.

“It becomes your world,” she said. “And you’re so shut off from (technology and everything else) ... you realize just how much a distraction those things are in your everyday life. So you form bonds with people so much quicker.”

In Monday’s second episode of the season, Jackie’s role was minimal. She didn’t go on any of the dates, but she didn’t get eliminated, either. She survived to see another week.

“You’ll see a little more of me the following episode,” she said. “It’s so weird, but it’s a cool. ... It’s like America is watching you. It’s not just a home video.”

And you can bet her family and friends will be just a few of those glued to the screen — Team Jackie shirts and all.

The Bachelor” is on 8 p.m. Mondays, on ABC.

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