So waking at 4AM would usually be a very hard task for anyone…but when you're waking up to catch a 6AM flight to LAS VEGAS to go to MISS AMERICA, it feels like 10 in the morning. Waking up that early was definitely worth it. Even flying to Vegas was a highlight of my trip because we flew over the Grand Canyon and now seeing it from above made me really want to make another trip out west. Upon arriving in Vegas,I was totally amazed at the surroundings.
Not 5 minutes after arriving at the Plant Hollywood Hotel & Resort , the host hotel for the pageant, I ran into some of my MAOTeen sisters! I excitedly ran to check in, get my official badge and reunite with my girls that I had so fabulously bonded with during MOAT. After unpacking 90 pound of luggage in our room that had an incredible view of the Bellagio fountains, my mom and I decided to grab dinner at Mon Ami Gabi, a french restaurant at the Paris hotel next door.
As we walked around before the show I realized, I was that girl walking around in awe just looking at everything and really taking in the moment! Looking at pictures of the famous Las Vegas Strip is one thing but then actually experiencing being in Las Vegas for the Miss America Pageant is amazing!
The relationship that all of my MAOTeen sisters and I have is incredible. Seeing all of them before the Preliminary competition on Tuesday night was an emotional experience and when I say emotional -I don't mean upsetting, I'm talking about feeling an overwhelming amour of joy! SO much, that you just feel like you are going to burst because you are so happy. Reuniting with my sisters was just like you see in all of the movies! Running to each other with arms out wide, HUGE smiles and of course, pretty dresses! After the realization set in that this moment, the moment we all had talked about in August was finally here-it started. The cameras started rolling and the flashes started popping! Picture taking everywhere. I made sure to take a lot of pictures too just so everyone could see almost every moment. I want to remember every feeling, emotion and friendship while holding it near to my heart forever.
The first night of Preliminaries was very exciting. I can honestly say I have one of the best Miss in the whole world. Her talent was flawless. I was extremely proud of Laura and seeing her at visitation after the show was so much fun! Family, friends and the Miss Florida Board waited anxiously to hear about her day and wish her well. I know how much even just one hug can mean so I squeezed her extra tight! And continued to do that every time I saw her in passing.
Wednesday was THE day. The Teen performance on the Miss America stage! I had been looking forward to this moment since July when I was crowned, Miss Florida's Outstanding Teen. It was the day when one of my dreams literally came true! The MAOTeens and I performed our fitness production number on the Miss America Stage. But before the performance we had an all day rehearsal doing the fitness production number...and for those of you who haven't seen it, it is a workout in itself. It includes jumping jacks, running, kicking, skipping… oh ,how could I forget PUSH UPS! So doing the whole routine 40 times in rehearsal was trying but totally worth it because we "crushed it" (Pitch Perfect reference) on stage! Even though my year isn't over yet I already know that performing on the Miss America stage and this whole trip will be the one of the major highlight s of my year!
Thursday was so much fun! My mom wanted to show me more sights of Vegas before my autograph signing that afternoon so we walked across the street to the Belliago. The hotels in Vegas are jaw dropping! You walk in and they have handblown glass covering the ceiling…like what?! crazy right! My favorite part in the hotel was the Worlds Largest Chocolate Fountain!!!! For those of you who know me, I love chocolate and one of my favorite things in the whole wide world are chocolate covered strawberries…So you know I had to get some (; After getting a tasty treat, I had an autograph signing with all of my MAOTeen sisters! It was great meeting so many people and talking to all of the cute little girls in their princess crowns. Also visiting the tradeshow is always fun because I love visiting the boys at Regalia and seeing all of the sparkly dresses! Later that night was the last preliminary competition and Laura was phenomenal!
Friday, all of the Teens and I went on a field trip/ tour of Vegas. We went to see the famous Las Vegas sign, toured one of the CMN hospitals, visited and talked to some inspiring kids, then toured the Smith Center and all of the Teens and I can proudly say we have all performed there (a.k.a. singing while we were in the theater). We also decided last minute to visit the famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop that is featured in the TV show! After a long day of seeing Vegas ,my Mom and I went to the Eiffel Town Restaurant so we could dine 100 feet above Las Vegas Boulevard while enjoying a stunning meal. Our window seat and view of the sun setting on the mountains and the lights of Vegas was incredible. We then proceeded to see Las Vegas from a totally different viewpoint atop the Paris Las Vegas Effiel Tower. This was a ride on a glass elevator up the half scale replica of the real Effiel Tower . One thing we didn't realize was that in Las Vegas it is normally windy but when you go up almost 400 feet higher its is SUPER windy. The lady told us it was about 15 degrees at the top while we were going up to an outside 360 degree view of Vegas. But once at the top, the whole city lit up and I tried to take it all in.Talk about feeling like an ice cycle!
After that we went to go see the Cirque du Soleil show called "O". This show was truly incredible! It was a water based show with all of the circus elements. Everyone was jumping into the water, diving into it, coming down from the ceiling, and the floor would come up and down. So one minute everyone would be standing on a normal stage and then 2 minutes later they would all be submerged into water, doing synchronized swimming. After a long, exciting day it was time to sleep before the big day!
Waking up on Saturday was bitter sweet because it meant that a long childhood dream would come true of being in the audience of Miss America when she was crowned but hard goodbyes with my MAOTeen sisters were to follow! Saturday was full of excitement! You could feel it in the air. Finally my sister Jami got in to town. She wanted to see a little bit of Vegas so we took her over to the Bellagio to see the decorations for the Chinese New Year. It was beautiful, even the dancing children were made out of flowers. For lunch my mom, sister and I went to Margarittaville, which is always fun! I loved it because they had a picture of Florida painted on the ceiling. After that it was time to get ready for the show because there was a Pre-Show where they honored Military Families! Thanks to all who serve our country! My brother is in the Navy so this part of the show touched my heart.
Here comes the 92nd show of Miss America live on ABC. I can't stop thinking about how the contestants must feel. This is the place you dream of and the place where dreams become real.I am blessed to be a part of such a great organization that allowed me to watch pageant history in the making. I am honored to be a teen representing such a wonderful state. I am so thankful to have the support of a Board that so tirelessly helps prepare young ladies for opportunities to learn, grow and serve.While counting my blessings,I count my blessings twice for our Miss Florida, Laura McKeeman. She represented us well, made the Top 16 and made a lasting impression on my life as an amazing role model.
I hope I revisit the Miss America stage again maybe as a contestant or a... a famous host-emcee. You all know how I love the stage lights so until my next blog….Shine ON!
For more pictures you can like my page: http://www.facebook.com/MFOT12