ATLANTIC CITY — Outgoing Miss America Savvy Shields said it feels like only yesterday she was putting the new crown on her head and getting her heels stuck between the cracks on the Boardwalk.

While she still may not be totally used to walking on the Boardwalk in heels, Shields will have to give up the crown Sept. 10 at Boardwalk Hall after a year of service as Miss America.

On Wednesday, Shields and the Miss America Organization welcomed the 51 contestants for this year’s competition to Atlantic City during a ceremony at Kennedy Plaza.

The contestants, clad in their crowns, gowns and sashes from their home states, introduced themselves to the crowd on the Boardwalk for the first of many events in the next week leading up to the competition.

“This whole thing is going to fly right past us,” Miss America Organization President Josh Randle said. “It’s going to be a wild ride, but we can’t wait to see who the next Miss America is going to be.”

The contestants were greeted by Mayor Don Guardian, Casino Reinvestment Development Authority Director Chris Howard, Miss America CEO Sam Haskell and former Miss New Jersey Lynn Weidner, who is the chairwoman of the board of directors for the Miss America Organization.

Guardian, who is running for re-election in November, is thrilled to have the competition back in Atlantic City and is looking forward to seeing who will be the next most-recognizable ambassador for the city.

“Everyone loves Miss America, whether you’re here for the parade, the pageant or anything in between,” Guardian said. “We adopt the winner of this pageant as one of our own, and we’re very proud to call her our ambassador.”

During her speech to the crowd, Shields said she has cherished Atlantic City as her Miss America home and wears a necklace with the latitude and longitude of Boardwalk Hall engraved on it.

In the next week and a half, the contestants will travel around the area for events at the Linwood Country Club and service projects at the Atlantic City Rescue Mission, among other locations.

They will rehearse, be interviewed for potential scholarships, compete in three nights of preliminaries and ride in the Sept. 9 Show Us Your Shoes Parade on the Boardwalk.

Extra scholarships up for grabs are the Jean Bartel Quality of Life Award, the STEM award and the Women in Business award.

The Quality of Life award is named after 1943 Miss America Jean Bartel, who sold more than $2 million in war bonds during her time as Miss America.

Finalists for this year’s award are Jessica Proctor (Alabama), Briana Kinsey (Washington, D.C.), Krystian Fish (Kansas), Brianna Drevlow (Minnesota), Anne Elizabeth Buys (Mississippi), Cara Mund (North Dakota), and Suzi Roberts (South Carolina).

Contact: 609-272-7260 Twitter @ACPressDeRosier

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