You've got to give it to Atlantic City -- it's not going down without a fight. But until it can begin to think beyond the tackier bits of its past it's not going to be able to get out of the mess it's in.
Miss America makes her official return to Boardwalk Hall in September, but Atlantic City officials are hoping people will be interested enough in the competition’s history to visit the resort year-round.
On Friday, city and tourism officials announced plans for a free Atlantic City walking tour dubbed “The Road to the Crown,” a new promotion of the Rose Walk at Tanger Outlets, The Walk and a Miss America video booth.
Also freshly redone are the large windows at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel where pageant memorabilia were once displayed.
And planning is underway for a Miss America attraction on the Boardwalk at Kennedy Plaza, though details were not released Friday.
“There are a lot of people with a lot of really specific interests out there, and for some people that’s Miss America,” said Atlantic City Alliance CEO Liza Cartmell. “We hope that people will be interested enough to come out to see Atlantic City.”
Those who are interested are expected to make their first stop the Sheraton, where they’ll either pick up a brochure outlining the route or follow directions for downloading a smartphone application with a mobile guide to the tour.
“The Road to the Crown” will provide a path and information about the attractions located throughout the Sheraton, where the the current Miss America’s gown is displayed each year along with original shoes worn in the Miss America parade, replicas of past winners’ gowns, trophies and other collectibles.
Hotel developer Tom Scannapieco designed the Sheraton to be themed to Miss America. The extensive collections located there, including a newly refurbished bronze statue of longtime host Bert Parks, have been in place since the hotel’s opening in 1998. Never before has the hotel’s collection been promoted with the intensity described Friday.
The tour will take visitors through the Rose Walk Journey weaved throughout the outlet shops, where sidewalk plaques display Miss America history. A stop at Boardwalk Hall will round out the tour.
Mayor Lorenzo Langford said there’s no doubt that Miss America is big enough to garner new interest in the city.
“We, I don’t think, fully appreciate what Miss America means to the nation. This thing is huge; it’s big,” Langford said before presenting Miss America Mallory Hagan with a key to the city. “I’m sure that, collectively, the city of Atlantic City and all of our partners will make sure that we do all that we can do to ensure that she never leaves us again.”
The large windows outside the Sheraton facing the Atlantic City Convention Center at one time included extensive displays of Miss America memorabilia, including a lifelike Miss America mannequin that delivered a speech. Those displays were eventually removed following Miss America’s departure. Now, however, the windows display photo collections of Miss America through the decades.
Hagan said the welcome the Miss America Organization has received since announcing its return to the city has been tremendous. She described a recent spring day when she was on the beach for a photo shoot and one lifelong Atlantic City resident was overjoyed to meet her. The man said he had been to every Miss America parade but had never met a Miss America in person, she said.
“That’s the lasting impression that Miss America has on Atlantic City and on the nation,” Hagan said. “We are so thrilled to be back home in a place that truly appreciates the history and the historic value that Miss America adds.”
(c)2013 The Press of Atlantic City (Pleasantville, N.J.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch
Photo credit: Miss New York Hagan is crowned by Miss America 2012 Kaeppeler after being named Miss America 2013 in Las Vegas. The competition returns to Atlantic City for 2014. Steve Marcus / Reuters