Twenty-three cardboard cake boxes were piled on a table in the Ocean City Free Public Library last week, one for each of the 2013 Miss New Jersey pageant contestants who were in town for last weekend's pageant.

Opening one of the boxes, Ocean City Librarian Karen Mahar lifted out a circular cake topped with a silver high heel, a tiny cell phone with "Don't Text and Drive" on its screen, a pair of ballet slippers and a bunch of blueberries, all made out of edible fondant.

This particular cake had been created for Miss Atlantic County Lindsey Giannini, of Hammonton, one of the 23 contestants in the Miss New Jersey pageant competition, which took place June 15. Giannini's pageant platform was preventing distracting driving and her talent was dance, both of which were represented by the cake.

"Aren't they just amazing?" Mahar said, opening another box, this one holding a cake for Miss Liberty, Myra McCann, of Ocean City, which was topped with an Irish dance shoe - McCann's talent - and two wooden oars, symbolic of her membership on her college's crew team.

The students of Atlantic Cape Community College's Academy of Culinary Arts' wedding cake design class, taught by chef instructor Annmarie Chelius, of Ocean City, made the pageant cakes in partnership with the library, which funded the project. Chelius often holds cooking programs at the library.

They were then presented to the contestants during the Miss New Jersey parent luncheon June 15, held hours before the final competition, to used as table centerpieces - "decorations, not dessert," Chelius said. The winner of the 2013 Miss New Jersey pageant was Cara McCollum, a 20-year-old Princeton University student.

Although the project was aimed at the 80th anniversary of the Miss New Jersey pageant, which is held each year in Ocean City, it was also meant to welcome the Miss America pageant back home to Atlantic City.

"As soon as we heard Miss America was coming back to Atlantic City, we knew we had to do something cool for it," Mahar said of herself and Chelius. "(The Miss America Pageant) just wasn't the same when it wasn't here, and we're so excited to have it back."

The 2014 Miss America pageant, which will take place in September, is returning to Atlantic City after a seven-year stint in Las Vegas.

The Ocean City Library and ACCC ACA culinary class also put together a gift "bucket" for Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, of New York, who made an guest appearance at the June 15 luncheon. The pink souvenir beach bucket contained an apron and a chef with a pink tiara embroidered on the front of each, pink sprinkled tiara-shaped sugar cookies and an autographed copy of "Jersey Bucket List: 100 Ways to Have a Real Ocean City Experience," written by Ocean City author Mary Ann Bolen.

Inside the cover Bolen wrote, "Mallory, may your Ocean City memories last forever."

Contact Elisa Lala:

609-463-6713