Upon entering the arena, I stopped and was flabbergasted by the music I had not heard for more than 40 years. The biggest pipe organ in the world was being played and the song I heard was "On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City." It was truly a treat to hear that marvelous instrument played again. It still needs work and $10 million to get everything right.

I was amazed when I looked at the stage and saw the beautiful background that the contestants would have as they entertained. It was the best setting that I have ever seen on the Boardwalk Hall stage. In the center of the stage was a tall statue of Miss America holding her crown over her head. My sincerest congratulations to those responsible for creating this amazing backdrop for the show. Sam Haskell and Sharon Pearce are to be commended for selecting the company that created this perfect look for the stage

It was delightful to note the biggest crowd that I can recall attending the opening night of the Miss America Competition. I don't know the number, but I do know the entire lower level was almost completely filled and there was a good crowd on the floor of the Hall.

The show got off to a rousing start, and I truly enjoyed the group whose turn it was to show their talent. Something new was the fact that each of the contestants was asked a question about their platform. This gave the judges an opportunity to see and hear who would be the best spokeswoman as the new Miss America.

Tonight is the final night of preliminary competition, and if you have not yet attended, then I recommend you do so. The Miss America Competition is truly back home and is deserving of your support.

Bass Pro breaking ground

Bass Pro Shops will break ground on its Atlantic City site - from Atlantic to Arctic avenues, and Missouri to Mississippi avenues - on Monday. This company is the leading merchant of outdoor recreational products inspiring people to love, enjoy and conserve the great outdoors.

The following are notes on the outdoor industry: It reaches more than 80 million Americans who spend $175 billion annually, and there is no stronger brand in the business than Bass Pro Shops. The founder, Johnny Morris, opened his first shop in a small corner of his father's liquor store in Springfield, Mo., and today Bass Pro Shops is ranked No. 1 among all sporting-goods specialty retailers.

The company is going to build a 70,000-square-foot facility in the center of Atlantic City, adjacent to the existing Tanger Outlet's The Walk. The company estimates more than 116 million people will visit Bass Pro Shops this year. The average customer will stay in the shop for two and a half to three hours. The average distance driven by Bass Pro Shops' customers is 50-plus miles.

According to the company's promotional information, it thinks of Bass Pro Shops as a big theme park for men and families

The stores are huge tourist attractions in Missouri, Maryland and South Carolina, as well as Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. The company is committed to bringing the outdoors to as many people as possible. The Atlantic City store will be a part of the firm's aggressive growth that has added several new retail locations per year, each with tens of thousands of square feet devoted to outdoor pursuits.

The company is proud of the fact that no two stores are alike. Each is created special. Its unique approach includes cozy, hunting-lodge-themed decor, large comprehensive product displays, and professional sales associates who not only market the outdoor lifestyle but live it as well. Each year, Bass Pro Shops will execute key national events in all of its locations at the same time, reaching more than 100,000 customers per store. The events are full-scale massive expos with celebrities, pros, interactive games, displays and used sales drawing customers from hundreds of miles to each location.

When Bass Pro Shops comes to town, it brings more than just a passion for the great outdoors. It also bring a fondness for great food, and that's why many of the stores features restaurant that is a destination all its own. Without a doubt, the Bass Pro Shops will be a truly welcome addition to the retail units in Atlantic City.

Notes of interest

•Word on the street is that the two buildings between Lincoln Place and Elbron avenue, on Atlantic Avenue, will be demolished. The Cosmopolitan Hotel site will be used for parking and the building on Elbron avenue will be completely refurbished into a residential facility for seniors and those with physical handicaps. It is anticipated the work on this project will begin in the very near future.

•Stephen Kalt, executive chef of Borgata Casino Hotel's Forneletto Restaurant, won a competition on television's Iron Chef on Sunday night. Kalt has just opened the Thompson Hotel's new Caufield Restaurant, in Los Angeles. Kalt will continue to oversee Borgata's Forneletto. He received rave reviews for his presentations in his newest venture as well as here in Atlantic City.

•As of today, the Boardwalk Empire fa�ade has a new home, in front of the outdoor parking lot of the Resorts Casino Hotel. It has new vinyl and looks good in its new home. Steve Gura and his Interstate Outdoor Advertising crew are deserving of accolades for get it done so quickly and in the most professional manner. ]]>

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