ATLANTIC CITY — Just 12 hours after being crowned, North Dakota’s Cara Mund dipped her toes in the Atlantic Ocean, signifying the beginning of her coast-to-coast year of service as Miss America 2018.

Crowds gathered at Kennedy Plaza and on the beach in front of Boardwalk Hall, waiting for her to arrive Monday morning.

Patty Friel and her friends donned tiaras and swimsuit T-shirts during their morning bike ride and cheered for the new Miss America. Calling themselves the “bike chain gang,” Friel and friends said they ride their bikes on the Atlantic City Boardwalk every Monday and make a special stop each year at the celebratory Miss America toe dip.

“We’ve been doing this too many years to count,” said Lucille Rendina, of Atlantic City. “We just like to come here, welcome her to Atlantic City and wish her great luck during the next year.”

On the beach, 9-year-old Lynzy Simon, of Charlottesville, Virginia, asked Mund to sign her “Miss Greater Richmond Princess 2017” sash. Lynzy, who just started competing in pageants, said despite the long drive, she’s looking forward to coming back to Atlantic City to see next year’s competition.

“I really enjoyed watching her win,” said 11-year-old Alexa Churchman, whose family traveled all the way from Idaho for Sunday night’s Miss America finals.

Mund kicked off her gold high-heeled sandals when she got to the beach and held on tight to her crown as she did a dancer’s jump in the surf.

Between the photo shoots and hugs from fans, Mund had a quick moment to talk about her answer to her on-stage question about President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement.

“Everyone has a right to think what they want. I guess the one thing is, it’s important to have a spot at the negotiation table,” Mund said.

During her press conference as Miss America, Mund also said she believes Miss America needs to have an opinion.

The Bismarck native and Brown University alumna was crowned Miss North Dakota in June. At the age of 14, she founded North Dakota’s annual Make-A-Wish Fashion Show, which inspired her chosen platform.

Despite not winning any of the Miss America preliminary categories, Mund wowed judges with her jazz dance performance to Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” becoming the first woman from the Roughrider State to win the crown.

As Miss America, Mund will get to travel and promote her platform for “Make A Wish: Passion for Fashion” as well as raise awareness for the Miss America Organization’s official charity partner, Children’s Miracle Network.

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