EHC woman reflects on her time at Miss America pageant

Miss New Jersey Lindsey Petrosh, of Egg Harbor City, competes in the preliminary night evening gown portion of the Miss America Pageant in Las Vegas.

Miss New Jersey Lindsey Petrosh, of Egg Harbor City, has bittersweet feelings over having the pageant competition part of her life end at the Miss America Finals held Jan. 12 in Las Vegas.

Petrosh competed in the pageant, which saw Miss New York Mallory Hagan crowned Miss America 2013.

"I'm glad I got to go out with a bang," said Petrosh, who was back in New Jersey after finishing outside of the top 15 in the national pageant. "Many girls age out of the system, not getting the opportunity to go to Miss America, so I see myself as very fortunate in the fact that in my very last year, I was able to perform at the Miss America Pageant. It's a great way to go out."

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The biggest help to her during her two weeks in Las Vegas was all of her fans, friends and family, in Las Vegas and back home, who pulled her through by sending all their love, support and well wishes, Petrosh said.

Petrosh had a rooting section of about 100 people in Las Vegas, including about 60 friends and family members as well as Miss New Jersey Pageant officials.

A graduate of St. Joseph High School in Hammonton, Petrosh said past Miss New Jersey winners prepared her well for what to expect in Las Vegas. She was not surprised by anything, she said.

Petrosh, 23, said her time in Las Vegas was long and quick at the same time.

"I just felt like the days blended into one another. I felt like it was one long day that I was there. We were really running on just a few hours of sleep and continuously going and going and going. The two-week period finished quickly, but I felt it was very long and drawn out," Petrosh said.

During the first week, Petrosh participated in promotional work, met sponsors and did studio recordings and commercials for them. In the second week, Petrosh sang in the talent competition on Jan. 8, answered her on-stage question on Jan. 9 and did swim and evening gown on Jan. 10 on the stage of Planet Hollywood Live in the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Petrosh sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic."

"It was incredible. That's really what introduced me to the pageant world. I was looking for another stage to perform on as well as looking for another avenue to pursue my community service and volunteerism," Petrosh said.

Petrosh said she was humbled when she met the 52 other women. She found her fellow competitors to be accomplished and talented and thought Miss South Carolina Ali Rogers, who came in second place, was really beautiful. During Petrosh's 10-minute private interview with the judges, she answered questions about how the state pulled through from the destruction of Hurricane Sandy.

Sally Johnson, co-executive director of the Miss New Jersey Scholarship Foundation, said Petrosh represented this state beautifully at the Miss America Pageant.

"She's just so gracious and wonderful. She made us all proud. She looked beautiful. She handled her talent beautifully. ... While she might not have been in the top 15, she really presented herself so well," said Johnson, 75, of Scotch Plains, Union County.

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