Miss America Pageant

Miss America Pageant

About Miss America Pageant

"The Miss America pageant is a long-standing competition that awards scholarships to young women from the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The winner of the national pageant is awarded the title of, "Miss America," for one year. The competition is held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In January 2006, the pageant moved to Las Vegas,Nevada, where it remained for seven years before returning to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The pageant presents itself as a "scholarship pageant", and the primary prizes for the winner and her runners-up are scholarships to the institution of her choice. The Miss America Scholarship program, along with its local and state affiliates, is the largest provider of scholarship money to young women in the United States and in the world. In 2006 the program made available more than $45 million in cash and scholarship assistance. Since most of the contestants are college graduates already, or on the verge of graduating, most of their prize money is devoted to graduate school or professional school, or to pay off student loans for courses already taken. The Miss America Pageant began as a marketing idea. The Businessmen's League of Atlantic City needed to develop a plan to keep tourists on the boardwalk past Labor Day. They organized a Fall Frolic and held it on September 25, 1920. There were many events that day, but the most popular was a parade of young women being pushed along the Boardwalk in rolling chairs. Ernestine Cremona, dressed in a flowing white robe, was in charge of this event. It was so successful that a similar one was planned for the following year, and so on. At the same time, in an effort to increase circulation, newspapers on the East Coast had begun sponsoring beauty pageants that were judged on photograph submissions. The Businessmen's League of Atlantic City got ear of this and decided to capitalize on this idea. They invited the winners of these local newspaper beauty contests to the next Fall Frolic to compete in an, "'Inter-City Beauty," Contest. This contest had two parts, a popularity contest and a beauty contest. The winner of the beauty contest, the "Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America," was to be awarded the title of "Golden Mermaid." On September 8, 1921, one
hundred thousand people came to the Boardwalk to watch the contestants, a turn out much more than the Businessmen's League of Atlantic City had expected. A panel of artists serving as judges named sixteen-year-old Margaret Gorman of Washington, D.C., the winner of both contests and awarded her a $100 prize. When Gorman returned in 1922 to defend her laurels, she was draped in the American flag and called, "Miss America."