As new Miss America Nina Davuluri, of New York, makes the rounds of talk shows and begins a year of public appearances, congratulations are in order.
For Davuluri, certainly. The first Miss America of Indian descent, Davuluri embodies her platform, which is to celebrate diversity. The aspiring doctor won Sunday night's competition while embracing her heritage. Her performance in the talent portion of the contest combined traditional Indian dance with a good-natured bit of Bollywood flare.
And the Miss America Organization itself deserves a pat on the back for a job well done. The competition, which returned to Atlantic City for the first time since 2004, seemed both familiar and new. Sunday night's broadcast on ABC celebrated pageant history while showcasing a group of contestants who weren't afraid to break - or at least bend - the beauty queen mold.
The contestants were a little more relaxed, a little more confident, a little more comfortable in their own skin. Like Miss Iowa Nicole Kelly, who hasn't let the fact that she was born with one arm keep her from chasing her goals. Or Miss Kansas Theresa Vail, an Army National Guard sergeant, who became the first contestant to display tattoos during the competition. Or Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones, who performed the most traditional talent - baton twirling - in a most nontraditional way, wearing a jeweled brace after injuring her knee in preliminary competition.
And congratulations are in order for Atlantic City, which put its best bedazzled foot forward. Anyone on the Boardwalk over the weekend - from casual strollers to the crowds enjoying Saturday's parade - had to be impressed with how clean and well-maintained it looked. Clearly, the city Department of Public Works did its part and did it well.
The combination of Miss America, the Atlantic City Seafood Festival and the Atlantic City International Triathlon all in the same weekend were a reminder that the city can handle multiple big events as well as any destination.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Atlantic City Alliance made big investments to lure the pageant back to town. The early reviews indicate the city was ready for its close-up. Boardwalk Hall looked great on the prime-time broadcast, which also showcased contestants in front of city landmarks such as Steel Pier and the Absecon Lighthouse - and the city's clam docks never looked so picturesque.