ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — The Miss America Pageant is in Atlantic City only once a year, but visitors to the seaside resort where the historic pageant began can now have their own crowning moments year-round.
The city dedicated a statue of Miss America on Monday, modeled loosely on former title holder Mallory Hagan but incorporating features from other past winners. The Boardwalk statue depicts Miss America holding out the crown for a new winner to wear.
It quickly became a popular photo spot for strollers at Kennedy Plaza, directly across from Boardwalk Hall where the pageant is held each September.
"For 365 days a year, someone can come to Kennedy Plaza and have something to do with Miss America," said Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance.
The Miss America Pageant returned to Atlantic City last year after a stint in Las Vegas, and casino, city and tourism officials have rarely missed an opportunity to remind people of it. The statue is part of a never-ending series of free events and attractions designed to widen the resort's tourism base beyond gamblers.
The reigning Miss America, Nina Davuluri, was at the ceremony, along with Suzette Charles, the Miss New Jersey who was elevated to Miss America in 1984 after Vanessa Williams lost the title in a nude photo scandal.