It is almost time for one of my favorite events of the year. And I’m not talking about the holidays.
On January 14th, fifty-three sensational contestants will take the stage in Las Vegas to compete for the most coveted title in American pageantry: Miss America. And like always, I will be paying homage to this most elegant winter tradition.
As I explained last year, the best part of the Miss America competition is getting to know the ladies in advance. Each one has unique ambitions, personality, and background. Like a star football player is a symbol of masculinity, each Miss America contestant is a feminine icon. Their positive energy and ability to inspire others is just as worthy of respect as a football player’s ability to evade tacklers and score touchdowns.
Once again, I have taken the time to familiarize myself with each of the lovely ladies by watching two video clips released by the pageant, one explaining why they should win and the other recounting their favorite Miss America moment, and also by reviewing their profiles on the competition website. Based on this information, I have narrowed the field of 53 contestants down to 20 who I think should do well in the pageant. Then, the night before the pageant, I will narrow my list to 15, and rank them.
Take my predictions with a grain of salt. Last year, I managed to overlook the eventual winner, Teresa Scanlan, in selecting my field of 20. To be fair, Teresa was an unlikely champion. At 17 years old, she is the youngest Miss America since 1937, the only contestant from Nebraska to ever win a major national pageant, and the first pianist in 20 years to take home the crown. With all that said, Teresa has by all accounts been an exemplary Miss America and there is simply no excuse for me leaving her off my list. I vow that I will not make that mistake again this year.
On the brighter side, each of my three highest ranked contestants found their way into the top 10 last year, including two of the top four. So that gives me a little momentum going into this year.
Here is the breakdown. To ensure I am not unfairly favoring some parts of the country over others, I have made sure that at least ten of the sixteen regions of the United States are represented. Accordingly, my top 20 is divided into twelve regional representatives and eight “wildcard” candidates. (You can assume that I was more impressed by a region’s representative than any wild card contestants from that region. Other than that, they are listed in no particular order.) Finally, I group the remaining contestants into categories, just for fun.
Click the title of the contestant to view her introduction video and click on the second link to view her Miss America 90th anniversary tribute video.
The West: Miss Colorado. She is the lovely daughter of Miss America 1974, Rebecca Ann King, making her the first daughter of a former winner to compete for the crown. Pageantry runs in her blood, and it shows. Tribute Video.
The Rust Belt: Miss Michigan. The touching story of a girl who won her battle against rheumatoid arthritis and her state’s pageant. Contrary to her doctor’s dire predictions, not only can she walk and dance — she can tumble. Tribute Video.
Southern California: Miss California. You have to give her credit for the creative use of the iPad (and for keeping her composure despite the glitch). Now there’s a girl who thinks outside the box. Tribute Video.
Miss Arkansas. Arkansas is tied with California for the longest streak of top 15 finalists (four years and counting). Here’s to hoping our luck continues with this sweetheart from Stuttgart. Tribute Video.
Miss Alabama. A sweet Southern belle, and the most senior contestant in the field at age 25. She recently became the only Auburn graduate to ever be filmed shaking a crimson pom-pom in public. Tribute Video.
Miss Virgin Islands. Never have I heard a crock-pot make such a sweet sound. (No Tribute Video available.)
Now for some other noteworthy contestants . . . .
Miss Maryland. Actually, there is at least one person in America who had never heard of a show called “Toddlers and Tiaras.” (No Tribute Video available.)
Miss Rhode Island. She has a bigger personality than Snookie’s poof. (Her words, not mine.) (No Tribute Video available.)
Miss Georgia. Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. (No Tribute Video available.)
Okay, so now that you know the contestants, who is your favorite? I hope you had as much fun watching the videos as I had posting them. ; )