ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – There she goes – Miss America is packing up her tiara and leaving the city she’s called home for 84 years.
The famous beauty pageant, a fixture on the Boardwalk since its 1921 start as a bathing beauty revue, announced Thursday it will seek another city in hopes of changing its luck.
The pageant is in financial straits and last year lost its broadcast network TV contract with ABC. It will be entertaining offers immediately, pageant CEO Art McMaster said.
McMaster surprised the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority on Thursday by asking it to release the pageant from the last two years of its five-year contract to stage the annual event in Boardwalk Hall, where Miss Americas have been crowned since 1940.
McMaster said the pageant could save up to $1 million by moving to a venue in a new city, between reduced telecast production costs and site fees potentially offered by a new location.
“It’s a sad day,” said James Whelan, a board member and former mayor. “We felt we really didn’t have any choice but to grant their request.”
“It’s similar to going through a death,” said former Miss America board member Jayne Bray. “I’m just saddened. September will never be the same in this town.”