Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 | 9:31 a.m.
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2012 Miss America Pageant host Chris Harrison of “The Bachelor” celebrated his wife Gwen’s birthday right after Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler was crowned the new Miss America on Saturday night at Planet Hollywood. The couple took over a bungalow at Surrender Nightclub in Steve Wynn’s Encore, and Chris was kept busy posing for photographs with fans.
Surrender resident DJ Calvin Harris was back behind the wheels of steel after his tour with pop superstar Rihanna. He also was celebrating his birthday and was presented a custom cake by Surrender’s go-go dancers honoring his No. 1 track “We Found Love” with Rihanna.
Before the pageant, Chris took time from last-minute rehearsals to meet the widows and daughters of fallen U.S. servicemen in the Miss America salute to the “Wounded Warriors/Got Your Back” partnership program “Project Gratitude.” Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was on duty for the meet-and-greet.
Miss America Organization President Art McMaster told me: “It’s our way to thank widows and daughters of fallen military members to have them attend Miss America as our guests. We are proud to bring together families that have suffered tremendous losses making the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Many experiences including shared friendships and gained memories are made with these amazing families who will forever be a part of our Miss America family. We are honored and privileged to have them join us.”
Wayne Newton invited the 53 Miss America Outstanding Teens to tour his Casa de Shenandoah Ranch, a 42-acre property about to become a new tourist attraction. The Wayne Newton Museum, with its five decades of showbiz memorabilia, sponsored the young ladies’ visit with a luncheon and sneak peek at the estate, including its exotic wildlife and sloths, penguins, wallabies and Arabian horses.
Pageant judges Kris Jenner, Lara Spencer, Teri Polo and Mark Ballas all went to Sugar Factory American Brasserie’s Chocolate Lounge in the adjoining Paris for dinner and then back to Gallery Nightclub at Planet Hollywood to celebrate Karina Smirnoff’s 34th birthday.
Kris and gal pal Hollywood decorator Faye Resnick wore black Dolce & Gabbana outfits, Kris in a full-length, sequined gown and Faye in sexy, form-fitting silk. Teri wore a stunning white Herve Leger gown, while Mark showed off his off-the-dance-floor style in a Giorgio Armani tuxedo. Karina wore a multi-colored, form-fitting Sheri Hill sequined dress and Christian Louboutin high heels.
She laughed: “All I want for my birthday is for Tim Tebow to dance on ‘Dancing With the Stars,’ but as a football fan and the (Denver) Broncos and the (New York) Jets out of contention, I’m now rooting for the New York Giants.” Knowing that Karina is a fan of cupcakes, her friends ordered an oversized cupcake assortment, plus chocolate fondues, Rice Crispy treats and chocolate chip cookies.
After Karina’s shopping spree in the Sugar Factory retail store, she led her party onto Gallery, where she danced atop one of the oversized booths. She was ear-to-ear grins when the Pussycat Dolls presented her with a mirror-ball birthday cake. Thanks to David Becker of WireImage for his photos.
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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