After the Miss America Pageant crowned its new queen in January at the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood Casino, things looked quite bleak for the pageant’s future. Even though it drew a larger viewing audience than the previous year, the pageant’s contract with a certain television cable system had been concluded with no interest in televising future pageants. Its contract with Planet Hollywood had also been concluded and there was concern about having it extended. The Miss America Pageant was literally without a home and a television site for 2011. During that period, some of us in the Atlantic City area tried to raise interest in bringing the pageant back home. One of the executives I approached, who will remain nameless, said we shouldn’t bring it back because it’s a dying entity, and that Atlantic City should not be involved with a project that is destined to fail. How wrong he was!
Before we could get commitments for the future, we learned the Miss America board signed a contract with the ABC network to, once again, televise the pageant. Shortly thereafter, they were informed that Planet Hollywood wanted to continue to be the pageant’s host. Their problems were resolved and a bright future looms ahead.
The Miss America Pageant began on the beach in Atlantic City in 1921. It was held at various sites in Atlantic City such as on the Steel Pier, the Warner Theatre and the Atlantic City Convention Hall. In 2006, after residing in Atlantic City for 84 years and after long debates with the Atlantic City Convention and Visitors Authority, the Miss America board of directors decided to move the pageant to Las Vegas. The 2011 Miss America Pageant will be held on Jan. 15 and will mark a special year, as it will celebrate its 90th anniversary.
The seeds of ideas generally come from a small group that discusses a project and then introduces it to others to build up momentum and to make it become a reality. Thus was born the idea of resurrecting the Miss America Parade in Atlantic City. For those of you who are newcomers to our area, the Miss America Parade drew upwards of 150,000 people to the Boardwalk in Atlantic City to see each state’s representative woman as they drove by and heard the crowd shouting, “Show us your shoes,” which they did. The parade on the Boardwalk originated with the state’s queens being pushed in rolling chairs by lifeguards in the middle of hot afternoons. The rolling chairs gave way to convertibles. It was later decided to hold the parade in the evening when it was cooler and the floats could be more attractive with lights.
There is little doubt that this area hungers for the Miss America Pageant Parade to return to Atlantic City. The idea to do this began with the Miss Philadelphia Pageant, where Tom Lamaine was the master of ceremonies. Lamaine is a local resident who was a radio disc jockey and moved to the Philadelphia area to become a meteorologist on television. He was among the first to buy a home on a site that was redeveloped by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA), where he was born and bred in the inlet section of Atlantic City. How do you have a parade in one city when the major event is in another city halfway across the nation? Easy, if everyone is willing to participate.
At the present time, that looks like what is happening. The representatives of the various state pageants have agreed to accept the responsibility for transportation from their state to Atlantic City and return. Lamaine has had agreements from several of the casinos that would be willing to house and feed the contestants as their chaperone for that weekend. Lamaine, with those interested, are putting together the details for the parade and the various requisites needed to conduct one. By the way, all the former Miss Americas will be invited to participate. The anticipated parade would be on a Friday evening in September. There is also the possibility of having an event on a Saturday night in Boardwalk Hall, or a casino’s showroom where the former Miss Americas and other noted entertainers would perform.
Notes of Interest
Word on the street is that the sale of The Pier Shops at Caesars is imminent. There is no word yet on who the buyer will be. There is the possibility that Taubman Centers, Inc., a real estate investment trust, will continue to operate the facility. I am happy to note that the new One Atlantic special event center on the fourth level and extreme ocean side of The Pier Shops is very busy with weddings, bar mitzvahs, business meetings and charitable events. The view from their lounge area is absolutely magnificent, particularly in the evening as the moon rises out of the ocean. They should open it up to the public on evenings where they do not have an event because it provides a view of the skyline of Atlantic City that you can otherwise only see from a boat.
The CRDA’s $12 million revitalization program of Bally’s Claridge tower will upgrade, restore and preserve the exterior façade. Special attention will be paid to the preservation and restoration of the brick and steel, the cupola, classic window details and other architecturally historic features of the traditionally designed exterior. Care will be taken to use traditional materials and assemblies so as to preserve its appearance for the future. And for those of you who do not know, the beautiful Thomas Edison Fountain of the Lights, in Brighton Park in front of the Claridge, is now operating and is a sight you should see. The project should be completed by spring 2011.
The Boardwalk revitalization fund was set up to reserve funds for both casino owners and for non-casino owners for property along the Boardwalk, as well as open space areas like Brighton Park. The CRDA will have spent nearly $35 million on non-casino properties, and 15 projects along the famous walkway.
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All of this went out the window when the Miss America Pageant’s CEO, Art McMaster, called to inform that Las Vegas officials indicated that there would only be one parade, and that it would be in Las Vegas.
'Penthouse' publisher Bob Guccione never achieved the full notoriety of his contemporaries in the skin magazine trade, but still loomed as a controversial figure with his publication, which was much more hardcore than Hugh Hefner’s 'Playboy,' but much tamer than Larry Flynt’s 'Hustler.'