Fifty-two gorgeous women stood on stage.  Only one could become Miss America.


People were lining up for hours before the doors opened at Saturday’s Miss America Pageant at Planet Hollywood’s Theater of the Performing Arts.  An abundance of cleavage, sparkle, tiaras and sashes were in evidence.  We had been informed that we were to be in our seats by 4:30 p.m.  The Pageant itself starts at 5 p.m. so that it is live on the east coast at 8 p.m.  Just people watching is part of the entertainment.


The first year I came, I came alone and was just a face in the crowd sitting up in the far reaches of the balcony.  This year my husband Bob, son Justin, step daughter Beth and her fiancé Larry who all came to cheer me on at the launch of my new book, Pretty Smart: Lessons from our Miss Americas, sat with me about twelve rows from the stage. A handler started revving up the crowd about 20 minutes before the show went live.  People shouted out for their favorite contestant, waved placards, banners and lighted signs.  The energy in the 7,000 seat theater was palpable.


Mario Lopez was the host – elegant, debonair and smooth.  Clinton Kelly from What Not To Wear provided back story info. 


This year’s class of Miss America contestants are all smart and beautiful.  If you’ve been watching the reality show, I’m sure you have your favorites.  I did pick out Miss Indiana for her thoughtful and considered responses and comments.  I also liked Miss New York, Miss Florida and Miss Connecticut – how could I not, we live in Connecticut – and Miss California and Miss Louisiana and Miss Hawaii … well, really all of them. Every contestant brought something special to the stage. Can you imagine being one of these beautiful girl’s mom watching her daughter on stage?


After having interviewed a number of prior year judges as well as my 22 former Miss Americas, I have a bit better understanding about what the judges are looking for. More important than a contestant’s talent or whether she is a size two is her ability to engage with people from all walks of life, her thoughtful, intelligent and considered responses and a certain light she carries with her that makes others do a double take.


Katie Stam, Miss Indiana, carries that light.  She’s our  new Miss America.