Survivor winner Sophie Clarke will be the Grand Marshall at the Essex Fourth of July Parade.
The Willsboro Central School superintendent said what the whole town was thinking.
“Sophie, welcome home and congratulations,” Superintendent Stephen Broadwell said in welcoming Willsboro alumnus and CBS television reality show winner Sophie Clarke back to the community, just over a week after she was named the $1 million prize winner Dec. 28.
“Everyone has been sitting in front of the television watching you for the past several Wednesday nights, so it’s kind of apropos that we are all here on a Wednesday night, but this time we have you here with us.”
Clarke, who spent the time before the show in interviews with the local CBS affiliate and talking to friends who came out for the event, was then greeted by warm applause and several ovations throughout the hour-long question-and-answer period.
Audience members were able to ask a number of questions to the newest reality television star, with many focused on what the day-to-day life on the island where the show was filmed was like.
“You are stranded with 17 strangers on an island. You just kind of go insane,” Clarke said. “You really create these bonds with people, and the most important thing becomes making these alliances so you can stay for another day.”
Clarke was also asked about bathrooms (“there are none”), what she had to eat (”I will never eat another coconut ever again”), food cravings (“I created my ice cream cake business because you were craving and thinking about sweets”), creating bonds with the other contestants (“it’s like one of the Stockholm Syndrome things”) and who she thought should have won if it was not here (“Brandon or Dawn, but I’d lean toward Dawn because she was really deserving”).
Clarke also took questions from those who wanted to know what her advice would be to youth in Willsboro who may think that they are limited because of the small town attitude.
“I think that is such a bad outlook if you think that,” Clarke responded. “I think that you can be surprised by what you can do when you try. I know that you can look at things that way when you come from a town like Willsboro, but it simply is not the case.”
Clarke added that while she was able to use skills that she learned in Willsboro (she said that she felt the public speaking program had a major impact), she also learned a lot from the show experience.
“I learned that there are a lot of cliches that are true,” Clarke said. “I find that I live much more in the present. I am more willing to say yes, and I am able to relate to a lot more people.”
Clarke said that, as far as memorabilia, the only thing she took from the island was a puzzle piece from the final immunity challenge.
“I liked that one because I think it won me $1 million,” she said.
As far as what she missed from the show, Clarke sounded like an avid outdoor-woman.
“I miss sitting around the campfire and looking at the stars with no television or phones around and just telling stories,” she said.
Clarke also related the experience she had when she went to deposit the winner’s check.
“I slipped the check into the teller like it was no big deal,” she said. “The teller looked at it for a moment, then looked at me, and got all nervous and said he was going to have to talk to the manager. I finally told them what was going on and took a few pictures to remember the moment. They later told me that there was only one other time they could remember where someone deposited a big check, which was actually more than mine.”
After the event, Clarke stayed to take pictures with those in attendance and sign autographs.