Miss America competition celebrates 90th Anniversary in Vegas

mainOn Jan. 15, 2011 some of the most beautiful women in the country will converge for a night of glamour, tradition and prestige on the Las Vegas Strip.  No, it’s not the newest production show in Vegas. It’s the 90th anniverary of the Miss America pageant, which will be broadcast live on ABC from Planet Hollywood.

Television personality and co-host of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” Brooke Burke will co-host the competition alongside Chris Harrison from ABC’s “The Bachelor.” In honor of the special anniversary, at least 40 of the 66 living Miss Americas will be at the event, creating the largest single gathering of Miss Americas in history.

The Miss America Pageant started in 1921. It was held in Atlantic City, N.J. for 84 years before the president and CEO of the Miss America Organization Art McMaster decided that the competition should move to Vegas.

“Being the Entertainment Capital of the World we just felt that it would be a lot more exciting right now,” said McMaster. “There just seems to be much more media attention out there, but secondly, and just as important, Planet Hollywood offers Miss America a very nice theater that enables us to put on the Miss America Pageant in a very nice theater environment.”

The judges for the competition were recently announced and include an expert from each of the seven fields that a contestant must excel in to be named Miss America.

“We don’t just run out there and grab seven people,” said McMaster.

The fields of expertise include the field of: Interview, Community Service/Instrumental Talent, Star Power, Fitness/Dance,  Heath and Beauty, Fashion and Vocal Talent. The judges for the 2011 competition are: comedian and co-host of ABC’s “The View” Joy Behar representing the Field of Interview; Miss America 1990 Dr. Debbye Turner Bell representing the Field of Community Servive/Instrumental Talent; creator and Executive Producer of ABC’s multiple-award winning program “Desperate Housewives” Marc Cherry representing the Field of Star Power; prefessional dancer and an instructor for “Dancing with the Stars” Tony Dovolani representing the Field of Fitness/Dance; a five-time Golden Globe Nominee and a “New York Times” Best-selling author of eight books on health, fitness, and lifestyle improvement Marilu Henner representing the Field of Health and Beauty; shoe designer Taryn Rose representing the Field of Fashion and multiplatinum selling country music star  Mark Wills representing the Field of Vocal Talent.

“When [the judges] get into town we’ll spend several hours with them telling them from an organizational standpoint what it means to be Miss America. We really educate them on the scoring process and what each of them needs to be looking for out of the 53 contestants,” said McMaster.

The Miss America contestants arrive in Vegas 10 days before the competition to rehearse and get ready for the big night. During that time they will also get an opportunity to experience some of the various shows and attractions that the city has to offer including seeing Barry Manilow and visiting the Eiffel Tower , both at Paris Las Vegas. On Jan. 8 at 5:30 p.m. the contestants are putting on a fashion show at the Fashion Show Mall where people can get a chance to see them strut their stuff. The fashion show is free and open to the public.

To add to the 90th anniversary celebration, for the first time in five years, the Miss America event will also include a Miss America Parade on Jan. 14. Renamed the “DSW Show Us Your Parade Shoes Parade” the processional will take place at the Arc de Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas.  The parade is open to the public and starts at noon. Celebrity writer Robin Leach will host the parade and serve as Master of Ceremonies.  The parade will feature 53 of the Miss America contestants along with Miss Americas throughout the decades. Along with modeling a pair of DSW shoes, the contestants are also going to have chance to speak to Leach about a second pair of shoes that they’ve decorated with their personal theme. The parade will also include a musical performance by Miss America 2010 Caress Cameron and appearances by other special guests and dignitaries.

The “Show Us Your Shoes” tradition of the Miss America Parade started in the early ’70s in Atlantic City, N.J. when a group of parade spectators wanted to get a better look at the beautiful shoes the contestants were wearing while traveling the parade route in their convertibles. The contestants obliged and “showed their shoes” to the crowd.

More fun facts about the Miss America pageant:

1. The first Miss America competition was held in 1921.

2. Miss America travels approximately 20,000 miles a month.

 3. On average, Miss America changes her location every 18-36 hours.

 4. Famed movie star Grace Kelly served as a judge for 1954’s Miss America pageant.

 5. The Miss America Pageant is the fourth longest-running live event in television history.

6. Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron is the eighth African-American woman to hold the prestigious title.  Cameron is also the first African-American among the three Miss Virginia winners to be crowned Miss America.

7. In 2010, “USA Today” named Miss America one of the top ten places in the U.S. to find true Americana.

8. Miss America was nationally televised for the first time in 1954.  Bert Parks was hired in 1955, beginning his 25-year reign as Master of Ceremonies of the Miss America Pageant. He introduced the theme song, “There She is” by Bernie Wayne, as Miss America 1956 Sharon Ritchie took her crowning walk down the runway.

9. One of the requirements for running for the Miss America title is to be unmarried.
10. Believe it or not, talent wasn’t a mandatory part of the competition until 1938.