Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 | 8:31 a.m.
Blonde-haired and mischievous-eyed Chelsea Caswell couldn’t have imagined a better birthday present ahead of her 23rd celebration this Friday. On Sunday night, she defeated 18 girls to be crowned the 2013 Miss Nevada USA, and this June, Chelsea represents our Silver State in Donald Trump’s 2013 Miss USA Pageant at Planet Hollywood and airing on NBC.
Chelsea, who is a food and beverage supervisor of three lounges at the Wynn, told me that she had never entered a pageant until over the weekend. “It was a first time,” she laughed. “I never expected to get into the Top 12 or Top Five. I certainly never dreamed I’d win.
“I entered as a lark. I had a friend who was a Miss Missouri encourage me just for the fun of it, so I did, and now look what’s happened!” Chelsea, who lives in Summerlin, took the day off from work Monday and returns today.
The 2013 Miss Nevada Teen USA Pageant was held concurrently at UNLV’s performing arts theater and won by Miss Sparks Amanda Jackson. She takes over from Katie Eklund of Las Vegas.
Katie tells me that she will wait until she turns 21 and then enter the Miss Nevada USA Pageant. Amanda will go to the Bahamas this summer to compete in the national teen pageant. Our thanks to Georgina Vaughan, 2009 Miss Nevada USA turned photographer, for her photo gallery of the pageants.
State pageant director Shanna Moakler, 1995 Miss USA, told me: “All told, we had 43 girls competing in the two pageants. It’s the best turnout of contestants and fans we’ve ever had with the Nevada pageants.
“Jade Kelsall was stunning and did an incredible job as last year’s winner. Now we have the new crop, and I think Chelsea and Amanda can definitely make Top Five at Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. I really think we have high-caliber women starting to shine here.
“Until now, I don’t think the two systems have really nurtured the Nevada pageants and contestants. I have begun the process of getting people in Nevada excited about pageantry and what it can do for the women in the state.
“It is life-changing because even if you don’t win, you still learn a lot about yourself, and you gain a lot of confidence. You learn a lot about where you stand in life. I think it just makes you a better woman and helps girls gain self-esteem.”
I asked Jade how she felt ending her yearlong reign and turning her crown over to Chelsea. She told me: “I wasn’t a pageant girl to begin with, and I didn’t think I would be emotional at all. And today I got farewell gifts, and I cried. It is very bittersweet, but I am happy and can’t wait for Chelsea to go to Miss USA this year. I want to be there and be a part of her competition every step of the way.
“I learned so much about myself, and I learned that having the support in the community is very important. I have learned a lot on how to have an opinion about certain things, speak publicly, and I love the community a lot more than I ever did moving here five years ago. So I will pass all that on to her.
“Even though I came from no pageant background, I believe it can change your life. It is not for everyone, but if you get there and see how to gain confidence in yourself, it is a really great thing for female empowerment.”
Jade turned down an opportunity to be on “Master Chef,” is staying put here and has TV projects “stirring and brewing.” 2011 Miss USA Alyssa Campanella and Las Vegas radio DJ Chet Buchanan were co-hosts. Alyssa has landed a Kia commercial that will be shown in the third quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl.
The judges included 2006 Miss USA Tara Conner, 2007 Miss Teen USA Hilary Cruz, “Survivor Micronesia” winner Parvati Shallow, makeup expert Rain Andreani, Motley Crue rocker Vince Neil, “Peepshow” star Josh Strickland, actor Torrance Coombs (“The Tudors”) and celebrity hair guru Michael Boychuck.
The contestants competed in a joint opening dance routine and then divided into swimsuit and evening gown categories before the Top Five in both pageants faced the dreaded onstage question.
Chelsea told me shortly after she won the crown: “This was my first-ever pageant. I had to think it out. It started on a whim because a friend who was Miss Missouri gave me the courage to go for it. I took the day off from work praying, hoping and wishing I would win, but never thinking it would happen.
“My friends at the Wynn asked me if I won, would I quit, and I said, ‘No, I will just be Miss Nevada who works at the Wynn.’ ”
PRE-PARTY CELEBRATION: Shanna, Tara, Hilary, Alyssa and actor-boyfriend Torrance had a pre-pageant dinner at Nove Italiano in the Palms on Saturday night. They also hit the new jewel box cocktail lounge Scarlet before partying in nearby Moon.
On Monday morning, Chelsea began her yearlong reign with an appearance on Fox 5’s “More.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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Palms Casino Resort has come a long way since its "Real World" debut in 2002. The boutique property features three distinct towers and a diverse mix of bars and restaurants across a 95,000-square-foot casino.
Palms, which features more than 1,200 rooms and fantasy suites, is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar transformation that will encompass an Ivory Tower room and suite redesign, new culinary additions, re-imagined gaming spaces and new, distinctive nightlife experiences.
In addition to newly designed rooms, during the first phase of the renovation, Palms will welcome Heraea, a high-energy American restaurant and lounge, and XISHI, a pan-Asian restaurant and lounge.
Fantasy Suites include the Hardwood Suite, the only hotel room in the world with its own basketball court.
Other amenities include the all-new Cantor Gaming® race and sports book, one of the few sports books in Las Vegas to include a poker room; SOCIAL; Scarlet; Chocolat Bistro; tonic bar; ghostbar; Pearl Concert Theater; Moon Nightclub; N9NE Steakhouse; Nove Italiano; Simon Restaurant & Lounge; Palms Pool & Bungalows; Kim Vō Salon; Drift Spa & Hammam; Brenden Theatres, a 14-theatre cineplex and more than 60,000 square-feet of meeting space.