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Posts Tagged ‘Atlantic City’

This past summer on our road trip down the east coast we spent some time in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  When we arrived we really didn’t have a plan and figured we would just stroll down America’s first and longest boardwalk.  I was excited to enjoy some saltwater taffy and my son was excited to play miniature golf and enjoy the rides at Steele Pier.

One thing I wasn’t expecting to do was to learn about the Miss America Pageant.  I was quite surprised after checking into to our hotel to find the world’s largest Miss America memorabilia collection in the lobby of the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel.  Now I’ll admit my son could have cared less about the collection, but I was swept away in memories of when I was a young girl watching the Miss America Pageant on television.  Honestly, until I was standing in the middle of the collection I had forgotten that the Miss America Pageant was held in Atlantic City from when it started in 1921 until 2005.  In 2006,  the pageant moved to Las Vegas after disputes over local funding and network television coverage.

The Collection

There were several dresses on display including the first Miss America, Margret Gorman’s sea green chiffon and sequined dress and the Statue of Liberty crown she wore in the 1922 competition.

The first Miss America, Margaret Gorman (1921)

Marian Bergeron was crowned Miss America in 1933 and wore a dress that resembled a Mardi Gras gown which is pictured below.

Marian Bergeron, Miss America 1933

The 1943 Miss America was Jean Bartel and is known for starting the Miss America Scholarship Program.

Jane Bartel, Miss America 1943

Lee Meriwether became Miss America in 1955.  She was the first Miss America to be crowned on television.

Lee Meriwether, Miss America 1955

In 1967, winner Jane Jayroe wore the blue dress below.  During her time as Miss America she traveled to entertain the troops that were serving in the Vietnam War.

Miss America 1967, Jane Jayroe

The 1971 winner of the Miss America Pageant was Phillis George who also went on to become the first female sportscaster on national TV.

Miss America 1971, Phyllis George

Below is the dress of  Miss America 1986, Susan Akin.  Her dress actually reminds me of one of my formals I wore my freshman year in college.

Miss America 1986, Susan Akin

Also showcased were nostalgic pageant treasures like the Golden Mermaid Trophy and the Miss America Crown and Scepter.

The Golden Mermaid Trophy

Miss America Crown and Scepter

Through out the hotel there were photographs of past bathing beauties and the parade on the boardwalk which was referred to as “America’s Playground” in 1926.

History on the Sidewalk

The history of the Miss America Pageant continues upon leaving the hotel.  Along the side of the building there were plaques and shadow boxes with interesting facts about past winners like Vanessa Williams who became the first African-American Miss America in 1984 and Heather Whitestone who became the first woman with a disability to win the crown in 1995.

For fun you have to check out the statue of Bert Park, the original master of ceremonies of the Miss America Pageant.  Make sure you step under the crown for a photo op.  My son thought it would be silly, so he vetoed my “Here She Comes” moment.

Bert Parks Statue

Sadly, the Miss America Pageant is no longer held in Atlantic City.  In addition to the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel’s collection, the pageant is also remembered via “Miss America Way”.  Diamonds along the sidewalk are assembled like the Hollywood Walk of Fame with each winner’s name from 1921 to 2005.

Miss America Walk of Fame

Good News

If you have a thing for beauty pageants or just find the history along the Atlantic City boardwalk interesting, I have good news.  The Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel was unscathed by Hurricane Sandy and the Miss America collection is still displayed in their beautiful lobby.  I am sure the Jersey Shore, specifically Atlantic City will be doing everything they can to rebuild the historic boardwalk community and it’s landmarks in the aftermath of the storm.  I hope many people will support their tourism.  Just remember to check out the amazing Miss America Exhibit after you hit the casinos and enjoy a meal at the historic Tun Tavern.  I am sure you will leave singing “Here She Comes, Miss America”!

Do you plan to visit Atlantic City?

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Firefighters in chest high water putting out house fire in my coastal town on the south shore of Long Island during Sandy 10-29-12 Credit: Caryn Jenkin

One of my favorite circa homes in town 

Yep, my car is under that tree

My friend  Gail, from high school posted the following quote on Facebook last week  by Albert Clark.  “In our daily lives, we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but the gratefulness that makes us happy.”  Despite the unusual circumstances that many people have experienced in the Northeast, I am happy and it has to do with gratitude.

The last two weeks have been challenging, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy I have been blessed with overwhelming feeling of  gratitude. I am grateful that I no longer live in the house on the water that I resided in for eight years that took in three feet of saltwater and debris from the canal.  I am grateful that the big red oak tree on the corner fell on my car and not my house.  Speaking of my house, I am grateful that it didn’t go up in flames during the storm like three homes in my town and the 80 homes in Breezy Point in Queens.  I am grateful that I was only without power for a week compared to those families that still do not have power.  I am grateful that I live in a generous community that has reached out to so many in need which turned into a lesson for my son that didn’t require any traveling.

The first couple of days after the storm, I had no idea about how the storm affected neighboring communities in New York City and New Jersey.  Once the power and cable resumed I was shocked and saddened as I sat in front of the television and read stories online.  I quickly realized that many of the places that my son and I visited just this past summer like Coney Island, Atlantic City and Cape May were on the list of the devastated communities.  I also learned that the HMS Bounty, which we boarded on Memorial Day weekend sank in Sandy’s wrath in of all places off the coast of the Outer Banks where we spent a week only two months ago..

The crew of the HMS Bounty was so friendly and really made it fun to learn about maritime education.  Fourteen crew members were rescued, but sadly Claudene Christian was not rescued in time and neither was the captain, Robin Walbridge.

HMS Bounty in Greenport, New York (the tall ship’s home base) this past May.

These revelations definitely made me pause with sadness, but at the same time I realized  how grateful I was that we were able to experience these places before Sandy erased the historical charm of America’s first and longest boardwalk in Atlantic City or America’s First Amusement Park in Coney Island.  In addition, I  am truly grateful that the crew members that we met on the HMS Bounty were rescued after enduring what must have been an unbelievable frightening experience at sea.

The Atlantic City Boardwalk this summer.

Coney Island this past summer – grateful for the memory of such a happy day.

Coney Island after Sandy …all the electronics that made the Wonder Wheel go around sat under water.

I also look forward to Ellis Island and Lady Liberty opening again once the significant storm damage has been repaired.  The Statue of Liberty was once again illuminated this past Friday offering a beacon of hope to all those that literally are picking up the pieces of their lives.

Visiting Lady Liberty before she was closed for renovations and from super storm Sandy.

I pray for all those that were affected by what was ironically

dubbed as the “perfect storm”

and hope that they still can find something to be grateful about

and once again experience happiness.

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