Over 50 beautiful Miss America Pageant contestants are packed today ready for their flights into Vegas tomorrow (THURS) and hopefully good weather and no lost bags will have them all arriving at Planet Hollywood Resort for their first introductions.
Also on hand for the official arrival ceremony will be last year’s Miss America 2007 Lauren Nelson and Art McMaster, president of the Miss America Organization. Planet Hollywood president Mike Mecca and Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of our Convention and Visitor’s Authority will give the welcome speeches.
It’s the third consecutive year that Planet Hollywood Resort has played host to the pageant at its Theater for the Performing Arts since the contest upped stakes and moved from Atlantic City. For the first time this year not only does it air on the giant TLC cable TV network but the show also gets a new name “Miss America Live”—and will be hosted by Entertainment Tonight’s Mark Steines. Keep your eyes on five candidates—including our Ms. Nevada—likely to wind up in the final 15 on pageant night next Saturday, Jan. 26. Here are Luxe Life’s initial “girls to watch”:
*Jill Stevens, a 24-year-old former Southern Utah University graduate has already served the United States as a combat medic in Iraq and Afghanistan. Win or lose she plans a career as an emergency room nurse.
*Makenna Smith, 24, from Oklahoma (incidentally it’s the state with the most Miss America pageant winners) also wants a career in nursing. She was the Oklahoma Governor’s pick as spokesperson for highway safety and she won Oklahoma’s Actress of the Year award for Maria in Sound of Music.
*Molly Leigh Hazlett is a 21-year-old from Centerville, Texas, completing her Bachelor and Masters degree in Mass Communications. Her ambition is to become a TV talk show host!
*Maggie Ireland, a 22-year-old Colorado State University student studying sports medicine, plans to earn a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Since 14 she has been working at a Rehabilitation Hospital for injured children and is a camp counselor for terminally ill children.
*Last but certainly not least our very own UNLV interior design student Caleche Manos, Miss Nevada. She’s been competing in pageants the last five years after her mom shelled out $100 to buy her a swimsuit for the Miss Lake Tahoe contest. She is a spokesperson for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) as her brother was killed in a drunk-driving crash five years ago.
Also keep tabs on Melissa Chaty, Miss California; Amy Polumbo, Miss New Jersey; Ashlee Bickford, Miss Rhode Island; and Ashley Layfield, Miss Hawaii. For the next 10-days the contestants will undergo grueling grilling from a panel of celebrity judges- click here for that Luxe Life rundown last week.
Tomorrow night (THURS) you can also watch Lauren Nelson, last year’s winner, on the Fox TV show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.
If she wins she’ll donate all the prize money to the Miss America Scholarship Fund. She’ll also join me when I host next Friday’s (Jan. 25) Evening of Dreams gala at Planet Hollywood Resort to raise funds for Miss America’s adopted charity, the Children’s Miracle Network. All 52 contestants will attend. The night before—Thursday Jan. 24—Sylvester Stallone also has invited them all to be his guests for the world premiere of his new Rambo 4 movie at the resort casino.
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