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Subject: Atlantic City marks first year without Miss America


Author:
Newsday.com
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Date Posted: 09/17/05 1:28:26pm



September 17, 2005, 2:58 PM EDT


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The swimsuit competition is gone. The parade of shoes is no more. Where are the earnest young women in high heels?

If Atlantic City somehow seems quiet this weekend, that's because usually at this time every year the city plays host to the Miss America competition. After 84 years of hosting the contest to find America's sweetheart, in August the nonprofit that organizes the event announced it was pulling out of Atlantic City.

The announcement came after years of falling revenues and dwindling television viewership for the pageant.

The pageant lost its network TV contract last fall and is slated to air on Country Music Television in January, but officials don't know yet where the event will be held.

Traditionally, preliminary competitions took place earlier in the week, then on Friday the contestants would roll down the boardwalk in convertibles and _ in a Miss America tradition _ show off their fancily decorated shoes. Then on Saturday night came the final pageant competition.

In Atlantic City, many said they would miss the pageant and all the events that went with it.

"I seldom watched the pageant," Norma Durso of Toms River told the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill for Saturday's newspapers. "But I used to come down to Atlantic City for the parade. I loved the festivity of it."

For many, the loss of the pageant was like losing a piece of America.

"I think it's a shame they gave up a tradition so many looked forward to," said Chris Kreybig of Manahawkin. "It's an American tradition."

The loss of the pageant has also had an effect on some area businesses that used to cater to pageant contestants.

"This is a big blow," said Dave Bowen, the manager of Tony's Baltimore Grill. "Parade night was one of the strongest nights of the year for us."

The pageant's pullout has had some unintended consequences for a less-traditional Atlantic City tradition as well. Usually the day after the pageant, a group of drag queens held a pageant parody and AIDS fund-raiser.

But so far this year, plans to hold the faux pageant minus the real thing have fallen through.

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