There she is... Miss America! Week 26!

What an overwhelming and extraordinary week!  I have decided to write two blog posts on my experience.  This blog post will be more descriptive of the events throughout the week.  My next blog post will be more reflective and hopefully … inspiring! 

I could barely sleep on Wednesday night after packing and preparing for an early flight!  My mom and sister took me to the airport where my boyfriend, Josh, met us at 6:00 am!  Thanks to Amanda Farmer at Bella’s in Springdale, I had 6 of the cutest zebra-print suitcases to take with me!  I found out later that Miss Alaska brought 2 suitcases and Miss Texas brought 10 suitcases … so I consider 6 suitcases to be average!  

I first flew to Phoenix for a short layover.  As I boarded the second plane, I was so surprised and excited to see Miss Missouri on the plane!!  We talked and napped during the flight before landing in Las Vegas. Several security officers and Planet Hollywood employees met us at the baggage claim and escorted us to a limo.  When we arrived at the Planet Hollywood Hotel, we entered through a back door where the hallways were lined with photos of famous performers … including Beyonce, Usher, and Miss America, Katie Stam!!  It was so neat! 

After checking into my room, I met with Express to choose my on-stage question dress.  Express is a new Miss America sponsor, and their wardrobe stylists were so much fun to work with!  I chose an adorable black sequin dress, accessorized with a small leather belt, bracelets, and silver dangle earrings.  I then filmed an interview for Express and “walked the runway” before a camera in my new Express dress.  I will share the links to their videos as soon as they release them! 

I headed to my hotel room to get ready for the arrival ceremony.  My roommate was Miss Idaho, and she was great!!  I think what I will remember most about my roommate was the pep talks we gave each other throughout the week.  Most of the talks were given because of our COLD water shower.  We ended up just washing our hair in the bathtub by the end of the week and just skipping the shower!

At the arrival ceremony, the contestants lined up and shared a cute introduction.  Then, they announced the 8 Quality of Life finalists, and I was honored to hear my name called!  I applied for this scholarship by writing an 8 page essay on my platform, “Second Chances through Mentoring,” and collecting recommendation letters.  

Quality of Life finalists!

Friday, we started with an IHOP breakfast in a conference room of the hotel.  The Miss America Organization and IHOP partner to support Children’s Miracle Network so several miracle children were invited to have breakfast with us.  After eating, we learned lots of IHOP secrets… including how IHOP chefs leave lumps in their batter to make more fluffy pancakes!  

Then, we met with the incredible choreographers to learn our opening number dance.  These choreographers have worked with Michael and Janet Jackson, Usher, Justin Beiber, and anyone you can imagine!  After rehearsal, we headed to Phantom of the Opera and met the cast afterward.  I had never seen that show before and absolutely loved it!  It was a highlight of the week!

Saturday was the first of several long, long days.  At 7:00 am, I started with a hair and makeup appointment for interviews.  I filmed the interview to be used for the top 15 contestants on the Saturday night show, which was quirky and fun!  Then, I filmed a relaxed interview with Artistry by Amway, one of Miss America’s greatest scholarship providers!  I was thrilled to talk about my platform, and you can see the interview here!

Then, I boarded a van with eight other contestants to head to the Hoover Dam to start filming the opening number production. When we arrived, the film crew had to set up so we spent an hour waiting with Miss America Teresa Scanlan!  We asked her so many questions about her day-to-day job, and I quickly gained a lot of respect for Teresa!  She is a very mature and selfless woman.  I know that she represented the Miss America organization well and will go on to do great things!  We then moved to the observation deck to film the opening segment and my introduction, “I consider it a compliment to be called a Hog!  I am Miss Arkansas, Kristen Glover!”  Despite the wind and circling helicopters, I think the segment turned out great!

We hurried back to Planet Hollywood to meet the other contestants and get ready for the Express style show.  We lined up in a large underground glass elevator that slowly raised us up into a huge crowd in the mall.  It was so much fun to walk the runway and later sign autographs.  If you haven’t seen the video yet, here it is!  After the style show, we had dinner at Buca di Beepo, where we were treated like celebrities!  We left our tomato sauce handprints on a canvas and were fed incredible entrees and a huge chocolate dessert!  So fun!  

Sunday was a marathon filming day!  We began at 6:00 am at the exclusive Hyde Club at the Bellagio in front of the famous fountains.  We probably spent the most time at this location as we were trying to film the video with the fountains in motion behind us.  Next, we headed to the Le Reve stage at the Wynn.  I danced on a ledge above the water where scuba divers were waiting to catch me if I fell in.  It was quite exhilarating!  At the Palms, we were given the secret elevator sequence to get to the exclusive Ghost Bar.  We filmed on a balcony 58 floors high with the skyline of Las Vegas behind us.  This segment ended up being my longest on-air segment as I step-snapped behind the contestants.  Haha!  What you didn’t know, I was dancing on a glass ledge … good thing I am not afraid of heights!  Next, we went to Fremont Street, where the Golden Nugget is the centerpiece of old Las Vegas!  It was lots of fun but pretty chaotic!  A crowd quickly gathered around us and cheered throughout our performance.  The final location was filmed across the street from the Planet Hollywood Hotel, the venue for our pageant.  We were absolutely freezing!!  There are many pictures of us cuddling together and getting deliriously silly in the cold.  Thankfully, not many of us got sick by the time we wrapped filming at 10:00 pm.  I was exhausted after that day!  

Hyde at the Bellagio

Le Reve at the Wynn

Ghost Bar at the Palm's Hotel

Final shot... before Planet Hollywood Hotel.

Several of us wanted a picture of Miss America, Katie Stam!  

Monday was interview!!  I met Dennis for hair and make-up and slipped into my beautiful red Michael Kors Couture dress, which was given to me by Shannon and Ted Skokos.  The interview lasted 10 minutes and was mostly about my personality, as if we were on a talk show.  I was asked only 3 political questions and a few platform questions.  Lara Spencer from Good Morning America, the head judge, was by far the best interviewer and asked the most in-depth questions.  Chris Powell (Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition) and Mark Ballas (Dancing with the Stars) were somewhat shy in interview and we contestants nicknamed them “the boys”.  We nicknamed Mike Fleiss (producer of The Bachelor) and Raul de Molina (Hispanic celebrity) “the men” since they were older and sometimes asked political questions.  Every time I saw Mike Fleiss, he was wearing sunglasses … which was weird.  Teri Polo (actress from Meet the Parents) was the wildcard.  She didn’t fix her hair for interview nor dress up, while often asking frivolous and sometimes inappropriate questions.  My favorite judge was Kris Jenner, manager of the Kardashian empire!  She asked me the most questions, including ones like, “What is your greatest quality?” and “What are your thoughts on plastic surgery?”  In fact, after I gave my prepared closing statement and started to walk away, Kris Jenner asked me to return to the microphone for a few more questions.  She then sat up in her chair and asked two more questions before a Miss America official stepped in to announce that we were definitely out of time.  It was odd … but I assumed she was interested in me! 

Tuesday, I continued filming for the Miss America commercials.  We started at Caesar’s Palace and then went to Serendipity.  At Serendipity, they brought us many ice cream sundaes to eat on camera, including the $88 treasure chest sundae!  It was a chocolate treasure chest that was filled with cakes, pies, ice cream, fruit, cookies, and candy.  Yum!!  Then, we filmed at a steak and shrimp restaurant in Caesar’s Palace.  They served us $100 steaks and elaborate lobster and escargot platters on ice sculptures.  It definitely beat the pizza and granola bars we had been given on the filming sets before that!  It was delicious!  I had the most fun filming on Tuesday! 

Tuesday night was the first night of preliminary competition, and I competed in the easiest phase of competition… on-stage question!  I was asked, “How do you inspire adults to begin mentoring students in need?”  After hearing several contestants ramble onstage, I succinctly replied, “I love to share stories of my mentoring experiences.  I have worked with pregnant teenagers and learned through that experience that my generation desperately desires role models.  That is why I have spread my message across Arkansas, and hopefully America, on the power of a mentor!”  After the preliminary competition, I was so excited to see my friends and family at visitation!  They are always so supportive!  

Wednesday was one of my best days!  I had my Quality of Life interview with 3 former Miss Americas.  We discussed my platform for 10 minutes, and they were very encouraging!  They were so proud to see contestants impact America through our personal platforms.  They believe in the Miss America Organization so much and were excited for us to share our passion for service!  Then, I joined the contestants for more filming within the Planet Hollywood Hotel.  While the crew was setting up, I accidentally fell asleep on a couch beside Miss Nevada.  We both woke up when we heard the contestants singing and dancing on camera.  Startled, I sat up, and a security officer told me that I was allowed to sleep until the next set.  Haha!  I smiled and lay back down.  We then moved to a hallway, and I was asked to dance in front of a spotlight for the lyrics, “Dancing in the moonlight” in Jessie J’s “Domino.”  I had so much fun while the director was yelling, “spin… more hair… spin… more hair!”  Eventually, my crown flew across the room and skidded across the floor.  I lost 3 rhinestones, and one of the tips is slightly bent.  Thankfully, a jeweler can fix it all! 

Wednesday night, I competed in swimsuit and evening gown, which was so much fun!!   I wanted to bring confidence and style to my swimsuit walk, and I thought the judges responded warmly.  Evening gown competition was a sheer fairytale moment!  As Coldplay’s “Paradise” played in the background, I walked down that beautiful stage and soaked in every moment!  My gown was sponsored by The Royal We and Clark’s Bridal and was designed by Tony Bowls. Above everything that happened during my week at Miss America, I received the most compliments on my evening gown!   Later, Tony told me that he was sitting with several former Miss Americas, who all told him that my gown was their favorite.  He was so proud! I wanted to show my evening gown on Saturday night more than anything! 

Thursday, I woke up in a great mood … until rehearsal.  I slipped multiple times during warm-up on simple tap steps.  Two other contestants actually fell on the slippery stage, and my entire group seemed to have a frustrating rehearsal.  I mentioned to Miss Oklahoma, Irish step dancer and a previous evening’s talent preliminary winner, that I was uncomfortable on-stage and danced timidly.  She told me that the slippery stage was not out of my control and told me to continually recite Psalm 66:8-9.  “Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.” 

Later, we were in the tent backstage getting ready for preliminary competition, and I called a Mu group meeting.  They all giggled and called me Mu group president but really appreciated the meeting.  I expressed how most of us had stressful rehearsals, and that we were all exhausted after a week in Las Vegas.  I had grown to love my Mu group girls and wanted us to encourage each other through the night’s show.  Together, we were going to give the audience the best show of the week!  We ended the meeting with a little chant and supported each other like sisters!  I missed several steps on the slippery stage but was very pleased with my stage presentation.  The Mu group girls were the first to welcome me off the stage with hugs and congratulations!  

Arkansas delegation on Thursday night!  wow! 

If I make Mrs. Micki proud... then I consider it a success!

Also on Thursday, Teresa Scanlan announced that she had a special gift for all of the contestants.  She had removed 53 stones from the bottom row of her Miss America crown and made pendant necklaces out of the stones.  She wanted each of us to have a piece of the crown because she believes that we all represent the Miss America Organization.  She thanked us for the lives we have impacted and the ways we have served.  It will be one of my most significant possessions of my lifetime.

Artistry by Amway is one of Miss America’s sponsors and did a remarkable job of posting backstage videos!  Watch these videos for more Miss America secrets! 
Day 1-

Friday, we rehearsed all day for the Saturday night show.  That night, I met my parents and grandparents at the Miss America Gala.  Robin Houseworth escorted me into the event, and we were announced before the crowd!  It was so good to enjoy the evening with my parents and talk over chocolate-covered strawberries!  They were so encouraging and proud of me!  I think my family considered the Miss America experience as extraordinary and special as I did!  My grandmother remarked several times, “Thank you for bringing me to Las Vegas!”  My family’s unconditional love for me was evident as they told me that they wouldn’t have missed it for the world!  That made my week so significant!  


Art McMaster, me, and Robin Houseworth

Saturday was so exciting!  We rehearsed prior to the live show and got ready in a tent behind the auditorium.  I thought the tent was so much fun, but my dad later said that he was surprised by how small it was for 53 girls.  I laughed and said, “Yeah… I guess 6 girls squeezed on one rectangular table was rather cramped.”  I just enjoyed the girls throughout the week so much that it never bothered me!  When it was time to line up backstage, a producer walked out to warm up the crowd and discuss the protocol for a live show.  The camera was scanning the crowd and zoomed in on my best friends from college.  They were all holding up signs that said, “We love Miss Arkansas!”  I started tearing up a little to see them!!  The show started and we took the stage!  I expected my name to be called for the top 15, but it never was.  I was disappointed but will talk more about this in my next blog post.  I hope you enjoyed my commercials and the rest of the Miss America Pageant!  I enjoyed watching from the lounge, especially when Miss Utah slipped away during commercial break to bring all of us candy bars!  I bet you didn’t see my Snickers on TV!?  Haha!  Congratulations to Laura Kaeppeler, our new Miss America! 

In my next blog post, I will reflect on the lessons I learned and ways that I grew through the Miss America experience.  I will also talk more about the other contestants and the way they have impacted my life.  They were truly an exceptional group of girls!  I consider the Miss America experience a chance of a lifetime … something I will never forget! 


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