ATLANTIC CITY — The Miss America Organization announced Wednesday the 2019 Miss America Competition will return to Boardwalk Hall and air live on ABC networks on Sept. 9. The news took city officials and Miss America supporters by surprise.
The scholarship competition begins Sept. 5, with three nights of preliminaries, followed by the Miss America Parade on Sept. 8. The final night’s two-hour telecast will begin at 9 p.m.
The Wednesday announcement was a welcome surprise after months of uncertainty, officials said.
Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam told The Press of Atlantic city on Wednesday he had not been briefed on all the information surrounding the 2019 Miss America Competition.
It also was the first time Miss New Jersey Co-Executive Director Donna Ayres learned of the competition dates.
“They (The Miss America Organization) haven’t announced the details of when contestants will arrive, but we are obviously thrilled that we now have firm dates and can plan accordingly,” Ayres said.
“This is exciting for the city,” said Steel Pier sales and marketing director Sharon Franz.
The Steel Pier hosts a “Night on the Pier” event for the state titleholders and has been featured during the filmed competitor introductions during the national broadcast.
“A lot of people that travel with the contestants come to Steel Pier and the Boardwalk. They just rave about the city,” Franz said. “We are more than happy to do whatever the Miss America Organization needs and keep our working relationship”.
Jim Wynkoop, general manager of Boardwalk Hall, said he and his team at the venue are excited to work with the new leadership group for the Miss America Organization.
“We look forward to continuing our relationship and moving into a new year and new event,” Wynkoop said.
Wynkoop said Boardwalk Hall stagehands and crew will all be a part of the pageant, along with whatever additional crew is provided from the Miss America Organization.
1 of 41
Miss America 2017, Savvy Shields, walks on the beach for the iconic toe dip. Monday, September 12, 2016. (Viviana Pernot/ Staff Photographer)
Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell takes the annual toe dip in the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City , Monday Sept. 14, 2015, the day after winning the crown.
Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev dips her toes in the ocean, Monday Sept. 15, 2014, as part of a pageant tradition in Atlantic City.
Miss America 2005, Deidre Downs, tests the waters in front of the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, where only hours before she was crowned the new Miss America. Sun. 9/19/04
Miss America, Ericka Dunlap, splashes in the Atlantic Ocean in front of Resorts Atlantic City the morning after winning her crown. Sun. 9.21.03
Miss America Erika Harold splashes for photographers in the Atlantic Ocean in Atlantic City, N.J. Sunday, Sept, 22, 2002. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Miss America, Katie Harman, jumps waves in the ocean in front of the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City the morning after winning the crown. Sun. 9/23/01
Miss America 2001 Angela Perez Baraquio, the former Miss Hawaii, reacts to the cold saltwater as she takes her traditional leap in the Atlantic Ocean for photographers just hours after winning the crown in Atlantic City, N.J., Sunday, Oct. 15, 2000. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Miss America 2000 Heather French, the former Miss Kentucky, jumps in the air as two surfers pass by during the traditional visit to the beach Sunday, Sept. 19, 1999, after being crowned Miss America Saturday night. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, the former Miss Virginia, leaps into the air as she poses for photographers on the beach in Atlantic City, N.J., Sunday, Sept. 20, 1998. Johnson is a graduate of the University of South Florida who recently completed work on a master's degree in journalism. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Sunday, Sept. 14, 1997. An Atlantic City police officer takes Miss America Katherine Shindle's picture as she poses for photographers on the beach in Atlantic City. (AP Photo/Daniel Hulshizer)
Miss America 1988 Kaye Lani Rae Rafko. Press File Photo
Miss America 1987 Kellye Cash on the Atlantic City Beach. Press file photo.
Miss America 1986 Susan Akin of Mississippi. Press file photo.
Miss America 1986 Susan Akin of Mississippi. Press file photo.
Vanessa Williams, Miss America for 1984 takes a leap for photographers on the beach in Atlantic City, Sept. 18, 1983. (AP Photo)
Miss America 1979 Kylene Barker from Virginia reads the front page of the Sunday Press. Press photo.
Miss America 1978 Susan Perkins on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Press photo.
Miss America 1977 Dorothy Benham reading the Sunday Press. Press file photo.
Miss America 1975, Shirley Cothran, reads the front page of the Press. Historical archive photo.
Miss America 1974 Rebecca Ann King. Press Archive Photo.
Miss America 1972 Laurie Lea Schaefer from Ohio reads The Sunday Press. Press archive photo.
Miss America 1970 Pamela Anne Eldred from Michigan reading the front page of the Sunday Press. Press file photo.
Miss America pageant 1967. Winner Jane Anne Jayroe reads The Press.
Miss America pageant 1966. Winner Debbie Bryant.
Miss America pageant 1963. Miss America Jacquelyn Mayer.
Miss America 1962 Maria Fletcher.
Miss America Nancy Ann Fleming of Michigan. 1961.
Miss America 1960 Lynda Lee Mead reads the headline in the Atlantic City Press.
Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley.
Miss America 1959 Mary Ann Mobley reading the Atlantic City Press.
Miss America 1951, Yolanda Betbeze of Mobile, Ala., waves after winning the Miss America title, Sept. 10, 1950 in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo)
21-year-old Miss Memphis, Barbara Jo Walker, wins the Miss America crown on September 6, 1947. She was the last Miss America to be crowned in a swimsuit. Historical photo archive
Miss America pageant 1939. Miss America Patricia Donnelly.
Miss America 1939 Patricia Donnelly.
Miss America pageant 1936. Miss America Rose Coyle, of Philadelphia.
Miss America 1935 Henrietta Leaver of Pittsburgh.
Lois Delander, Miss America 1927 - Miss America photos from the collection of Allen "Boo" Pergament.
1923. Miss America 1924, Ruth Malcomson, poses with World Heavyweight Champion Jack Dempsey and Atlantic City Mayor Edward L. Bader, who served as the 29th mayor from 1920-1927. Historical photo archive
1923. Ruth Malcomson of Philadelphia eats her first breakfast as Miss America 1924 in Atlantic City. Historical photo archive
With the pageant taking place Sept. 9 and the Professional Bull Rider rodeo taking place at Boardwalk Hall on Sept. 15, Wynkoop said the hall will have a hectic week, but they will be ready, he added.
“We have every expectation to accommodate both and make sure we’re ready to go and do everything we need to do for Miss America on the ninth and get ready for PBR coming the following weekend,” he said.
The announcement came months after emails surfaced between former Miss America CEO and Executive Chairman Sam Haskell, board members and employees in which they used crude and vulgar language to describe past contestants’ weight and sexual history.
The scandal led to uncertainty about the future of the competition and to the resignation of Haskell, Chief Operating Officer Josh Randle, board Chairwoman Lynn Weidner and several others.
Last week, the organization announced the Miss America Organization’s top leadership positions will be filled by women who have competed for the crown.
“The 2019 competition marks the dawning of a new day for the Miss America Organization. This year’s show will highlight women from all walks of life who are advancing the message of female empowerment through their efforts in the areas of scholarship, talent and social impact. Now with a historic, all-female leadership team paving the way for both the Miss America Organization and the Miss America Foundation, a new era of progressiveness, inclusiveness and empowerment has begun,” the organization said in a press release.
Tickets for the preliminaries and final competition will go on sale in June and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
Staff Writer Maxwell Reil contributed to this report.