We’re back on in eight seconds…five…four…three…APPLAUSE PLEASE…
Those were the words the live audience sitting in Boardwalk Hall heard uttered countless times during the Miss America 2017 telecast. It’s part of the behind the scenes elements many people viewing from the comforts of their own home don’t see. Everyone sitting in their living room just sees a loud, excited audience and a polished show-which is precisely what they should see. This was my very first time attending Miss America in Atlantic City and it was interesting to say the least, but very thrilling and memorable.
My mom and I arrived in Atlantic City on Friday afternoon, just in time to check-in and make our way to the boardwalk for the Miracle Mile walk for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. This is still a relatively new event during Miss America week. This year, 650?people participated raising thousands of dollars to help benefit sick kids and their families in need of financial support as they walked from the Boardwalk Hall to the Steel Pier.
Saturday was the iconic Show Us Your Shoes parade and for the first time in years, it didn’t rain (woohoo). It was really neat seeing the contestants’ creativity and passions for their home states come to fruition through their glamorous shoes and costumes. There were a handful that stood out to me and others that made me question how much time and effort they really put into creating their designs (those thoughts will be coming in another blog post, stay tuned).
For now, here are my thoughts on Miss America 2017, the final competition:
- Prior to the live telecast beginning, former Miss America’s were announced on stage. Following their introductions, a number of mothers of fallen members of our military were recognized as “honorary Miss America’s” crossing the stage one by one for pictures and greetings with current military personnel, Miss America’s, and Executive Difector of the Miss America Organization, Sam Haskel. This was a bone chilling moment I wish those of you watching from home would’ve had the opportunity to see. We often acknowledge those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country, but paying tribute to their courageous families is a large part of that. It was an extremely heartwarming and humbling ceremony to watch.
- Miss America 2016, Betty Cantrell singing our National Anthem prior to the start of the show gave me chills, multiple times. On the 15th anniversary of 9-11, it was an emotional feeling to be standing so small in a very large, iconic venue knowing Miss America was the first public event held just a few days after that tragic attack fifteen years ago. I believe Sam Haskell said it perfectly that in that moment the show went on as planned to prove to the country that we the people are a united nation. In addition to an organization that strives to positively represent America with strength, dignity, passion, and poise in times of triumph and times of distress.
- Let’s get to the competition-There were a few Top 15 surprises (from my perspective and I’m sure yours as well). First off, I had Arkansas (I’ve loved her since she won her state pageant-she appears super sweet, down to earth, and genuine), Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma (a true inspiration after trying for her state pageant for years prior to capturing the title), Texas (because I’ve gotta root for the redhead…obviously), South Carolina (previous Miss America’s Outstanding Teen) and Washington as my “for sure” picks. Some of the ladies that surprised me were Idaho (still slightly confused), Iowa (although that pick was solidified as soon as she performed her talent-she’s an amazing pointe dancer!), Massachusetts, and Maryland.
- Of course there’s always a handful of ladies I thought would make the Top 15 or could’ve and didn’t. Miss District of Columbia is one in particular that I felt would secure a semi-finalist position. Although preliminary awards often times don’t mean much (as in they don’t guarantee an advancement opportunity), I felt her swimsuit win was deserving and she was very charismatic and fun to watch from what I derived from prelims. Miss Kansas was another contestant I felt was deserving of a place in the Top 15. Point blank she’s absolutely stunning, but she appeared very mature, poised, and put together. Naturally, I was also pulling for my own state, Miss Wisconsin Courtney Pelot. I was hoping the judges would see how fun-loving and entertaining she is on stage, but you also have to keep in mind that going from 52 down to 15 is a ridiculously large jump.
- Can we take a moment to applaud all the past Miss America’s Outstanding Teen state titleholders that competed as “Miss” representing their respective states. There were 17 total contestants on the Miss America 2017 stage that held a state title as teens as well. That’s a true testament to the success the teen organization fosters, providing a feeder program into the miss. In addition, it creates more opportunities for women to gain scholarship dollars and make a difference that an even younger age.
- While on the topic of MAOT, let’s address Rachel Wyatt’s performance. WOW! I think that’s the initial and obvious response when you watch Rachel perform, especially in person. She is breathtakingly beautiful and one of the most talented dancers I’ve ever seen. I remember watching her in person when she was MAOT and performed at Miss Wisconsin the first year I competed, everyone watching was in complete awe then as they were on Sunday night. The one thing I felt detracted from Wyatt walking away with the national title was her lack of emotion. I wanted to see more expression from her in all phases of competition and felt as though there was an apparent disconnect between her and the audience. Which in turn, relays to me that she may not be the most outgoing, personable individual (necessary characteristics for the job of Miss America).
- For those of you complaining about the on-stage questions, they were all fair and expected during an election year. I’ve seen backlash on social media and heard countless comments about how the open ended questions regarding how contestants feel about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were inappropriate and should not have been asked. Reality check friends, it’s a PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION YEAR. Women within the Miss America Organization (MAO) on the local, state, and national level should possess a high caliber of diplomacy. While I get its sometimes difficult to convey that in twenty seconds, is something that “pageant girls” practice and should be able to execute with ease.
- Can we go back to a Top 5 and calling placements from there please? Thanks. I’m not a huge fan of announcing the Top 5 placements from a Top 7. Why, you ask? I love the uncertainty and thrill that comes from the contestants being narrowed down to two women standing on stage, hand in hand, awaiting their name to possibly be called. In other words, I don’t really like having three ladies standing there and two of them not making the final five at all. Then again, it’s a great accomplishment to even be on the Miss America stage-I’m certainly not denoting that fact.
- I felt that Betty announcing she is engaged during the Facebook live immediately after Savvy’s crowning was not the right timing and rather tacky. I get she’s undoubtedly been excited for quite some time about her new status and unable to share the positive news on a public level. However, you are Miss America-for the past year, now, and forever forward. That moment was her’s to commend all the accomplished, driven women for their achievements and dedication to this organization while wishing Savvy luck during her journey this year. I feel as though posting a different video on her own accounts later last night or better yet, today would have been much more appropriate.
- Also, as Miss America I don’t feel it was right for Betty to say, “I wanted Savvy to win all along and I’m just so happy for her!” on the live video either. I’m not trying to start a political correctness debate, I just think as the national representative she has 52 women from across the country who look up to her and openly showing favoritism reflects poorly on her. It’s a sisterhood for a reason. A handful of those women most likely could’ve taken on the title and done an exceptional job with it…give credit where credit is due.
- Last, but certainly not least: CONGRATULATIONS TO SAVVY SHIELDS! From what I’ve heard from people who know her on a personal level, she is extremely passionate, holds a contagious zest for life, and is very personable. There’s not a doubt in my mind that she will do an exceptional job the next twelve months and I sincerely look forward to watching her adventures via social media!
That wraps up some of my over arching thoughts abou Miss Wisconsin 2017! Were you there in person? Did you watch at home? Comment below and let me know if you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts!