LAS VEGAS – Behind every girl making her way through the gantlet of pageant life in hopes of being crowned Miss America there’s a father, husband, brother, boyfriend or some other man who’s probably along for the ride.
They may not know – or ever really want to know – what “ballet en pointe” is, or hold an appreciation for tap dancing, opera, or renditions of half-century old standards.
Yet, they come every year to watch the Miss America succession unfold, even if it’s a little painful at times.
“If I had a choice to watch the Patriots and Indianapolis, I’d watch the Patriots and Indianapolis versus the show,” said Mike Hamilton, of Auburn, Wash., an engineer by trade who volunteers helping coach local contestants how to tackle the thorny interview portion of the pageants.
For Hamilton, the pageant’s appeal now rests in being able to glean pointers for the girls he coaches. But the show itself is not his thing.
“I’m not into it for the pageantry or the program,” he said.
Like many of the men gathered this weekend at the Aladdin Resort & Casino to see the crowning of a new Miss America on Monday, Hamilton first became involved in the pageant through his daughter, who won local contests and the state title in 1995.
“It’s like kids in sports, you go to all your kids’ games,” Hamilton said.
Men easily made up a third of the crowd at one of the gatherings of relatives, friends and supporters of the 52 contestants vying for the title this year.
Some seem out of place, perhaps the allure of gambling tugging at their focus.
Not so with Patrick Coffey, whose 22-year-old daughter, Meghan, is Miss Wisconsin.
Praise for the pageant life comes easy for the 63-year-old university administrator who lives in a suburb of Milwaukee.
He’s watched his daughter compete as a baton twirler since she was very young, and says the pageant is an extension of that.
Along the way, Coffey says, he’s come to appreciate the pageant’s offerings.
“I’m not going to say I was dragged kicking and screaming to this, that was not the case,” said Coffey, a photo of his daughter pinned onto his lapel.
Ben Beran is a more recent Miss America enthusiast.
“I’ve honestly never been to a pageant thing in my life,” said Beran, 22, a pre-med student at Marquette University who is dating Coffey’s daughter.
“I’m obviously here because I’m dating her, but I really enjoyed myself tonight,” Beran said after watching performances on the second night of preliminary competition. “Just seeing the girls tonight, they’re a lot better than I thought.”
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