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Locals travel to Atlantic City for Miss America pageant

Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis didn’t place in the talent preliminary of the Miss America pageant Tuesday night, but her mom isn’t worried.

Photo submitted/Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis prepares for a night out in Atlantic City.

Photo submitted/Miss Mississippi Laura Lee Lewis prepares for a night out in Atlantic City.

The Brookhaven native performed the song that helped her claim the state title, “A Piece of Sky,” by Barbra Streisand. Miss Tennessee Grace Burgess won talent with a moving rendition of “Desperado.”

“That’s OK,” Lorin Lewis said. “Three Miss Americas in a row didn’t win talent prelims. LLL did an excellent job.”

Lewis will answer her on-stage question tonight during the second night of preliminaries.

Several Brookhavenites will be in the audience to watch her. Her mother said the Lewis cheering section continues to expand each night. “People are coming from all over — Colorado, Missouri, New York and Mississippi — to support her. Around 120 was our last count,” she said.

“We have spent today delivering signs, buttons and badges to everyone so they can wave them when she steps up to the microphone. We want to be sure she hears and sees how much she is loved and supported.”

Lewis said her daughter is humbled by the outpouring of love shown by her friends and family. “Laura Lee is very honored by all the support she has received from everyone’s cards, gifts, votes, social media and prayers,” she said. “She asks for continued prayer that the Lord will give her the wisdom and strength to continue to run this race that has been set before her with courage, wisdom, grace and love.”

Pageant week at Miss America in Atlantic City started off with a reveal of the shoes contestants will wear to the boardwalk’s traditional Show Us Your Shoes Parade on Saturday. Miss Mississippi’s heels are a tribute to Muppets creator and Mississippi native, the late Jim Henson.

The shoes, created by Tammy Wells, a state pageant director from Vicksburg, feature Kermit the Frog with Miss Piggy, who, of course, is wearing her own tiny Miss America crown.

In the parade, contestants ride atop convertible cars with one foot outstretched for the duration of the procession. The origin story for the parade has it that the procession evolved from what had already been the Miss America parade in the 1970s after spectators asked to see contestants’ shoes.

Lewis completed her interview with the Miss America judges Monday. She’ll compete in swimsuit and evening wear Thursday.

Lewis was the recipient of the gold award presented on the Miss America stage  for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International program which is the world’s leading youth achievement program. A bronze and silver award were also presented to other contestants.

Four Miss Mississippis have won the Miss America crown: Mary Ann Mobley in 1959, Lynda Lee Mead in 1960, Cheryl Prewitt in 1980 and Susan Akin in 1986.

The Miss America pageant airs Sunday at 8 p.m. on ABC.