Miss America Parade

Atlantic City police, which set up a command center outside Boardwalk Hall to coordinate various security forces for the the Miss America Show Us Your Shoes parade Sept. 14, ended up using more than 3,000 hours of overtime police forces. Here, Miss Hawaii Crystal Lee shows off her state in the parade.

Ben Fogletto

Miss America’s return cost Atlantic City nearly $400,000 in overtime, including almost a quarter-million dollars for police.

But how much of that the city ultimately will wind up paying is still uncertain.

“Everybody recognized how good this was for the city, so we did what we had to do to bring these folks here,” Business Administrator Ron Cash said. “We’re hoping and expecting to get some kind of reimbursement.”

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Numbers released to The Press of Atlantic City through an Open Public Records Act request include hours and costs, with Public Works putting in the most hours even before the contestants arrived. Those crews worked to ready the city, especially the Boardwalk, where the parade made a well-attended return the night before the Sept. 15 Miss America finals.

That work took more than 4,000 hours of overtime, at a cost of nearly $130,000.

At a City Council meeting following the crowning of the new Miss America, Councilman George Tibbitt, who heads the Public Safety Committee, estimated overtime costs would be $400,000 to $450,000.

He said at the time that the state likely would pay that amount. But at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, he deferred comment to Cash.

Cash said he believes the city will get at least some of that money, although he could not say how much or give a timeframe for the payment.

“It was necessary,” Mayor Lorenzo Langford said. “If we are successful in getting reimbursed, what a wonderful day it will be.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno has twice said during press conferences in Atlantic City no state money would be used to supplement Miss America.

By her definition, the $7.3 million the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and its Convention Center Division are providing to the Miss America Organization over three years does not qualify as state money. Casinos are required to turn over 1.25 percent of gross revenues to the state authority each year.

CRDA also has contributed $1.7 million for Public Works to complete necessary repairs to the Boardwalk before the Miss America parade.

The repairs were necessary to ensure the walkway could withstand the weight of cars and floats.

In exchange for the funding, the Miss America Organization has agreed to make the reigning queen an official spokeswoman for the resort.

That, officials have said, is why it was important to make sure the public safety presence was there.

Atlantic City police officers were assigned to the contestants for the two weeks of events. Before they went anywhere, bomb sweeps were conducted, police confirmed.

In addition to nearly 3,000 hours of overtime from full-time sworn police officers — at an average of about $78 an hour — the city had donated help from outside agencies, including federal, state, county and municipal police.

The night of the parade, a command center was set up inside Boardwalk Hall with police, along with communications workers, watching everything on cameras.

Helping monitor the Boardwalk were Homeland Security workers, who took care of the cameras on loan from that department, and Division of Gaming Enforcement officers, who handled the casino cameras.

Officers from surrounding municipalities were part of the group that accompanied the contestants along the parade route.

“The relationship and cooperation among all the agencies that were here, I think, is the template as we move forward with public safety in the city,” Public Safety Director Will Glass said, crediting the leadership of incident commander Deputy Chief Henry White. “The pageant was a great example of the success we can have when we work as one.”

Atlantic City Police Department civilian workers accounted for about $2,200 in overtime, with 100.5 hours of overtime going to the Special Law Enforcement Officer IIs.

The Class II officers, who are paid at an hourly rate of $15 without benefits, are allowed to work as many as 48 hours per week. Their overtime pay rate at time-and-a-half was $22.50.

The highest per-hour average was for the Fire Department, at about $86 an hour.

How much Miss America’s return helped the city financially is still not fully clear.

Casino numbers released this week show gambling was not a winner, with gambling revenue falling nearly 13 percent compared with September 2012.

Only the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel saw a gain, with a 4 percent increase. Caesars Atlantic City was down nearly 29 percent, and Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino lost 28 percent in revenue.

Staff writers Braden Campbell and Jennifer Bogdan contributed to this report.

Contact Lynda Cohen:


@LyndaCohen on Twitter

More than 30 years’ experience reporting and editing for newspapers and magazines in Illinois, Colorado, Texas and New Jersey and 1985 winner of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association’s John Murphy Award for copy editing.

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