Earlier this week, I had an interview with Sam Haskell, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of the Miss America Organization. His wife was a former contestant in the pageant and, through her, he learned a great deal about this event.

He understands the pageant, from the contestants, to the production, to raising the necessary funds to meet the scholarship requisites of the contest.

Haskell noted that Atlantic City will play a big role in the finals production on Sunday, Sept. 15. Different areas of the community will be the background for the contestants, who will arrive in Atlantic City on Saturday, Sept. 3, and meet the public that afternoon in Kennedy Plaza, in front of Boardwalk Hall.

In a discussion about the Show Me Your Shoes Parade, Haskell said there will be convertible automobiles for the contestants that will give them an opportunity to show their shoes. There will be many interesting floats, including some carrying the 30 to 40 former Miss America winners who will be in Atlantic City for the pageant. A variety of outstanding musical organizations, vocal musical groups and interesting activities will also be in the line of march. The parade will begin at 5 p.m. and conclude at 7 p.m.

This corner is urging you to come see one or more of the preliminary shows. The price is moderate and gives you an opportunity to see one-third of the contestants showing their talent, their swimsuits and their evening gowns. It would be nice to have a big crowd for the homecoming production of the Miss America Pageant. Tickets will be available at the Boardwalk Hall box office within the next several weeks.

It was heartening to hear that plans will be made for Miss America to tour the nation promoting her objectives as well as spend time in her new hometown of Atlantic City. I urge you to tune in to WMGM-TV 40, Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. and hear my interview with Haskell.

Miss America statue

In the midst of my conversation with Haskell, I brought up the subject of having a Miss America Statue at Kennedy Plaza in Atlantic City. He said he was very much in favor of having a bronze statue for people to see and take pictures with. He looked at me and smiled and said that hopefully there would be people in the community who would join together to provide the necessary funding for such a statute.

Knowing the value of having an item that may be used for people to take pictures and take them home and show them to their friends, as in the case of the "Boardwalk Empire" facade, I told Sam that I would be happy to lead the campaign to raise the necessary funding. We must first find a sculptor to design the statue and also learn its cost.

When we get all that in place, the appeal will then go out to the Atlantic City Alliance, the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and some citizens who would be more than willing to make the Miss America statue become a reality.

Eco-park

I recently visited Cape May County's Wetlands Institute and met Lenore Todesco, its executive director. The wetlands there are impressive and well-kept. We spoke about the possibility of an eco-park in Atlantic City. She sent me a letter that stated the following:

"I have reviewed the recent article in The Press of Atlantic City regarding the potential development of a visitor-friendly eco-park in Atlantic City in the area behind Borgata, Harrah's and the land owned by MGM. After meeting with you to discuss potential ideas for the area, I have some observations and thoughts."

These observations and thoughts will be presented in this column in the future after the local group that, hopefully, will develop an Atlantic City eco-park has an opportunity to study her ideas and suggestions.

Boardwalk Committee notes

Boardwalk Committee Vice Chairman Tom Lamaine suggested the posting of the Boardwalk bicycling rules, hours of operation and particularly speed limits. The landscaping change-out in the Boardwalk planters is currently being done. The beautiful flowers for this spring and summer season will soon be in place. The plant boxes at street ends will be in place by Memorial Day.

Environmental services have begun to powerwash the entire Boardwalk. This will be done on an ongoing basis throughout the season. The Bartram Avenue and New Jersey Avenue comfort stations are open, and the one at Albany Avenue will soon follow. Approximately 10 trash cans a day are replaced with clean cans, to allow the existing ones to be thoroughly cleaned. Boardwalk benches and arbors from New York to Florida avenues are now completed. Those on Florida to Albany avenues will be completed by July.

The Atlantic City Police Department is currently holding two classes for training the new 25 Class II officers. They were trained so well last year that all of them were hired to be regular police officers in Camden County. This required an entire new staff of summer police officers. It is expected they will go on duty in early July.

Atlantic City and Atlantic Electric have hired people to document the location of street lights in the city to determine who owns them and who is responsible for their continuing maintenance. The city has hired extra crews to install southern yellow pine planks and lights on the south end of the Boardwalk. Once the installation is complete, Atlantic Electric will install the meters. The city will maintain those lights through the public works' electrical bureau.

Notes of interest

When the Margaritaville project was announced, there were many who said they would never reach their goal of being open by Memorial Day. Due to the excellent construction staff and the manner in which the plans were laid out, this corner is happy to inform you that they expect that the Margaritaville Cafe portion of their project will be open today. It is anticipated that the LandShark Bar and Grill will open May 24.

The rumor mill continues to churn out the information that in the not-too-distant future the Showboat Casino-Hotel will be sold. A discussion with several of its employees brings forth the information that they, too, believe there will soon be a new ownership of Showboat.

Pinky's Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky's Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, "WMGM Presents Pinky," airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. E-mail Pinky at: pinky@pressofac.com.