ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — With the Miss America pageant returning this September, Atlantic City is trying to make it a year-round draw rather than a two-week attraction at the end of the summer.
The Miss America Organization and Atlantic City tourism officials on Friday unveiled pageant-themed attractions designed to draw visitors all year.
They include a walking tour and window-front exhibits of pageant history, replicas of Miss America memorabilia such as crowns, gowns, sashes and scepters, a video booth to record pageant memories and places to pose for Miss America-related photos.
Still to come is a Miss America attraction on the Boardwalk.
"It was really an initiative to show people that summer is never over in Atlantic City," said Liza Cartmell, president of the Atlantic City Alliance, the new marketing arm of the casinos. "Our best weather is really in the fall. Miss America brings thousands and thousands of visitors to Atlantic City, visitors who otherwise never would have come to Atlantic City."
The goal is to keep them returning and interested in the pageant — and all the resort's other attractions — throughout the year.
One attraction is the Road To The Crown, a walking tour starting at the Sheraton hotel, where Miss America memorabilia, replica crowns, gowns and sashes are on display, and continuing for blocks to the Boardwalk. A downloadable app will assist the self-guided tour, but brochures are available for the digitally challenged.
The Rose Walk Journey will wind through the city's downtown outlet shopping district.
Sidewalk plaques about specific Miss America winners and the history of the pageant have been installed, and a Miss America Through The Decades windows display of pageant history is ready as well.
The nationally broadcast pageant will be held in Boardwalk Hall Sept. 15.
Mallory Hagan, the current Miss America whose reign will be cut short by four months due to the pageant returning to its traditional September date from January, said she is excited about its return to New Jersey.
"I can't wait to be here in September and walk the long runway," she said.
Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC