Florida, Ohio contestants win Miss America prelims

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Contestants from Florida and Ohio won the first night of preliminary competition in the Miss America pageant on a night that saw one of the contestants collapse onstage.

Miss Florida Victoria Cowen won the swimsuit competition Tuesday, while Miss Ohio Mackenzie Bart won the talent competition for a ventriloquism routine.

The awards were announced moments after Miss Rhode Island, Ivy DePew, collapsed onstage and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Pageant officials said she appeared to be overheated but predicted she would be all right.

DePew was standing in the back row of contestants at Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall when she collapsed during an awards presentation by New Jersey Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Dena Blizzard, the pageant's host, told the audience "She just got a little overheated."

Sharon Pearce, president of the Miss America Organization, said DePew would be fine.

"She fainted, but she will be OK," Pearce told The Associated Press.

Sam Haskell III, CEO of the Miss America Organization, said DePew was alert and talking as she left Boardwalk Hall with her family en route to a hospital. He did not know if she would need to stay overnight.

DePew had competed earlier in the evening in the pageant's swimsuit and evening gown competition.

Bart wowed the crowd with a ventriloquism routine in which her dummy appeared to sing the Mary Poppins song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious."

"I was obsessed with Lamb Chop and I loved Shari Lewis," Bart told reporters afterward. "I used to sit with an old sock and I would mimic what they were doing. I just loved it."

The start of competition came on the same day that yet another casino company, Trump Entertainment Resorts, filed for bankruptcy and threatened to close what will soon be its lone remaining casino, the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort, in November. It would be the fifth of the 12 casinos Atlantic City began the year with to close this year.

So the start of the Miss America pageant, an Atlantic City icon for generations, is a welcome diversion for some from the bad news settling over the city like Boardwalk fog.

"Our hearts go out to the many, many people who have lost their jobs," Haskell said. "We hope that the Miss America competition, the Show Us Your Shoes parade and all the wonderful events this week are going to help bring some happiness and joy to this great city that serves as the birthplace of Miss America. We know what's going on here and we want to be something positive."

The next Miss America will be crowned Sunday night.

Wayne Parry can be reached at