WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Atlantic City will welcome back the Miss America pageant with a ceremony Tuesday afternoon on the shore city’s famed boardwalk for all 53 contestants.
The pageant is returning to the New Jersey city where it was founded after a six-year run in Las Vegas.
The contestants — one from each state, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — will gather across from Boardwalk Hall for a welcoming ceremony.Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick, a Fulton native and reigning Miss Amory Railroad Festival, is one of them.
The competition will end with the crowning of the next Miss America on Sept. 15 in a nationwide television broadcast.
The Miss America pageant moved to Las Vegas in 2006 in hopes of attracting a younger audience as TV ratings continued to slide. It was lured back to Atlantic City in part by the promise of increased subsidies, which are to total more than $7 million over three years.
Originating in 1920 as the Fall Frolic, the pageant started as little more than a bathing suit revue that was a way to drum up business for the shore resort after Labor Day. It broke viewership records in its heyday and bills itself as one of the world’s largest scholarship programs for women. Last year, the Miss America Organization and its state and local organizations made available more than $45 million in scholarship assistance.
But like other pageants, it struggled to stay relevant.
With casino industry revenues down for the seventh straight year, the city and state are hoping the pageant can give Atlantic City a fresh boost, showcasing recent improvements.