Editor's Note: Columnist Philip Potempa is reporting from Atlantic City while traveling this weekend.
When last visiting Atlantic City with my parents Chester and Peggy in July 2000, we were especially impressed with the museum housed inside the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center Hotel dedicated to the Miss America Pageant.
Glass cases and wall displays showcase a selection of gowns, sashes, shoes, scepters and crowns which have graced various winners of the legendary scholarship contest rewarding beauty, brains and talent.
In June 2013, the property officially welcomed back the re-installation of the 400-pound bronze statue of tuxedo clad Bert Parks, who served as the long-time host for the telecast crowning from 1955 to 1979. Parks was fired from his annual position in 1980 and replaced by Ron Ely when pageant officials decided they wanted to attract younger viewers. (Parks, who died at age 77 in 1992, was brought back to the pageant one final time in 1991, for the 70th anniversary of the Miss America Pageant, introduced by successor host Cary Collins so Parks could serenade that year's winner with his trademark "There She Is" anthem for the crowning.)
As for the statue, it was unveiled in September 1998 and I recall my parents posed for photos with it during our last visit in 2000. As for why it was removed and finally returned last year, I'm told it had been heavily damaged along with so much of the famed Boardwalk when Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern coast in 2012.
I'm pleased to announce the Miss America Pageant has also returned to Atlantic City as of last September. The Miss America Pageant was first held in September 1921 in Atlantic City and remained an annual tradition.
It was during the period of 2004 to 2013, The Miss America Pageant changed networks and venues. The Miss America 2005 crowning telecast was held in Atlantic City on Sept. 18, 2004, broadcast live, as usual on ABC from Boardwalk Hall. But the Miss America 2006 telecast was moved from September to January 21, 2006 and changed locations to Las Vegas Strip's Theatre for the Performing Arts at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. It was broadcast live on MTV Networks' Country Music Television. In 2009, Discovery Networks picked up the pageant on TLC, with Countdown to the Crown airing on Friday nights before the pageant.
During the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America Strike, actor Michael Urie, who is featured in my cover interview in today's Lifestyles feature section, hosted TLC's reality-based series "Miss America Reality Check." The program followed the contestants participating in the 2008 Miss America Pageant.
The Miss America 2015 crowning and telecast, which ranks as the 88th Miss America Pageant, is planned to be held at Boardwalk Hall here in Atlantic City on Sept. 14, 2014. Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri, will crown her successor at the end of the event and it will be broadcast on ABC.