Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 | 12:39 p.m.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — There she is, Miss America. And not a moment too soon for a seaside resort in shock as its casino market crumbles.
The Miss America competition began Tuesday with the unveiling of state-specific shoes the contestants will wear in Saturday night's "Show Us Your Shoes" parade on the Boardwalk. The shoes were displayed hours before the first of three nights of preliminaries.
The start of competition came on the same day that yet another casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, filed for bankruptcy and threatened to close what will soon be its lone remaining casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, in November. It would be the fifth of the 12 casinos Atlantic City began the year with to close this year.
So the start of the Miss America pageant, an Atlantic City icon for generations, is a welcome diversion for some from the bad news settling over the city like Boardwalk fog.
"Our hearts go out to the many, many people who have lost their jobs," said Sam Haskell III, CEO of the Miss America Organization. "We hope that the Miss America competition, the Show Us Your Shoes parade and all the wonderful events this week are going to help bring some happiness and joy to this great city that serves as the birthplace of Miss America. We know what's going on here and we want to be something positive."
The Atlantic Club, Showboat and Revel have closed this year, and Trump Plaza is closing next Tuesday.
Several contestants incorporated sports teams into their parade shoes: Miss Washington used Seattle Seahawks colors and a replica of the Super Bowl trophy. Miss Wisconsin has sleek Milwaukee Brewers boots.
Miss District of Columbia has cherry blossoms on her shoes, Miss Hawaii has palm trees, and Miss Louisiana has Mardi Gras feathers and coins.
The next Miss America will be crowned in Sunday night's nationally televised finale.