Here are photos taken at Miss America during the week leading up to interviews, the preliminaries, and the final competition.
1. At CMN Gala
2. Dancing the night away
3. With Jennifer Berry Miss America '06 and CMN representatives
4. Dreamgirls movie showing
5. Getting ready for rehearsals in Aladdin room
On Monday we visited the Venetian Hotel and rode the gondolas. While on the boat, one of the bystanders saw my sash and said, “Hey, we’re from Montana!” I found out they were from Kalispell and I asked if they knew a distant relative who is a veterinarian up there. They said yes and I said, “Well, I’m kinda related to that family.” They were amazed, as were the other contestants in the boat. I just responded, “Montana is relatively small. I think I have relatives everywhere.”
Tuesday night we were invited to the Planet Hollywood restaurant in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. We had a nice sit down dinner and then cleared the tables to dance a little. They wanted us to relax and have a little fun before the competitions began the next morning. The manager was very welcoming and made sure we were all having a good time.
Wednesday marked the first competition of the pageant, the interview. Throughout the day and continuing into Thursday, each contestant had their turn to be interviewed by the celebrity panel of judges in a closed room. I would definitely say this was the most intense interview I have ever had and cannot imagine another one like it. However, I am thankful for the preparations I had with coaches and practices with mock interview panels. I’m not sure how I would have handled this interview without those advantages. Also on this day I did a phone interview with Diane Cochrane of the Billings Gazette and she wrote a nice article with pictures supplied by the Associated Press for the January 26th paper.
Thursday was the first night of preliminary pageants. I performed my talent and was very happy with my presentation. It can be seen online through CMT’s website. Go to MissAmerica.cmt.com and click on the “Preliminary Talent Video” located on the right column of the page. Note: requires Internet Explorer to view the video. I am about eight minutes into the video and almost the entire two minute talent is shown. After the pageant, I saw my family and close friends for the first time since coming to Las Vegas. It was so great to see everyone and hear how much fun they were all having around town.
Friday and Saturday were similar schedules with rehearsals and preliminary pageants. It was commented by many volunteers and staff members that our class of contestants has been the most enjoyable to work with in many years. We all agree it is due to the numerous opportunities we have had to meet and connect before the competition. Our time in LA had a great effect on our relations which reflected in Las Vegas. It was truly like going back to a big group of friends.
Sunday was a “day off”…but not really. It was the break between the preliminary pageants and the final night. We still rehearsed and had a big event in the evening. The first annual Children’s Miracle Network Gala was held as a joint fundraiser for CMN and the Miss America Organization. All of the contestants were in attendance as well as Miss America, many former Miss Americas, and several prominent individuals from both organizations as well as supporters. The black tie affair included steak and lobster for dinner and a fabulous show by outstanding Las Vegas Entertainer, Danny Gans. He was marvelous in his musical impressions of every major pop vocalist one can think of. It was a great evening and one to help take my mind off the big day to come…
Monday finally arrived and we began with…you guessed it, more rehearsals. But this time it was with our host, Mario Lopez! No, I didn’t get to formally meet him. They mostly had him in specific areas plus I’m not one that usually oogles over celebrities. The time leading up to the pageant was a little restless because one can only primp so much until it’s useless. Walking out on stage was adrenaline pumped and the energy from the audience was exciting. It seems that I wait so long for the moment to arrive but at the same time everything has flown by so quickly. It’s very conflicting to describe. When they announced the top 10, I had a bit of disappointment but could look at those that were chosen with pride and knew that they were all ones who deserved the honor. My roommate, Miss Mississippi – Taryn Foshee, made it to the top 5 and performed her piano talent. I am very proud of her and how well she did. I am also very happy for Lauren Nelson and am excited for all the things she will experience in her year as Miss America.
I have often said that Miss Montana is a year of education that one cannot get at any university and that it is also a year of accelerated growth learning skills and techniques while discovering more about one’s self. The Miss America experience itself can also be summed up in this same way. Although the week starts with more fun events and time to relax, the last few days accelerate to include more emotional extremes and mental demands. They are still highly enjoyable with fun events and truly kind people, but with the constant anticipation of the final night! One of many special pieces of mail I received was a package from the Rapelje 5th and 6th graders. Each of them made a good luck card for me with beautifully drawn and colored pictures. It was very touching to receive and reminded me of who I was representing…the ENTIRE state of Montana and not just myself. I feel very blessed to have been given the chance to experience Miss America and am even more moved by the amount of support from all 75 Montana supporters in attendance and everyone watching at home. Even from backstage I could hear their cheer, “M-O-N-T-A-N-A Christie, we love you!” (a play on the Montana song that I happen to teach in my school presentations). If you happened to watch the telecast, you may have noticed the huge banner and picture of me hanging from the balcony. That was put together by my executive director, Avice, as were the hand signs and the life-size cutout of me at the Miss America trade show. Thank you, Avice and the Miss Montana Board for doing so much at Miss America.
I very content with my performance at Miss America because the experience was success in itself. I know that life takes us down certain paths and the events that happen along the way are for specific reasons. It is a matter of trust and faith to know that something else lies ahead.