UNCASVILLE, Conn. (WTNH)– Mohegan Sun will once again host the Miss America competition, which was put on hold in 2020. The return of the competition and other events this year may signal the return to some normalcy and the return of many workers laid off during the pandemic.
December 2019 was a crowning moment for the new Miss America and for Mohegan Sun, which became a new venue for the Miss America Organization after decades in Atlantic City.
Now celebrating its 100th competition a new Miss America tradition may have begun.
“This isn’t just a one year deal,” said Shantel Krebs, CEO of the Miss America Organization. “This is a three year partnership and we hope again for the remaining century to come.”
The competition drew thousands two years ago and the casino is placing bets it could do the same this year.
“I believe by December we’re going to be at a point where we’re filling up our arena,” said Mohegan Sun President and General Manager Jeff Hamilton.
He is hoping to see large events return even before that – by late summer.
They are also planning for the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the return of the Connecticut Sun, which also could mean the return of laid-off employees.
“They’re talking about over a thousand people when you think about the expo and the arena. Not all full time staff. Some of them are retired workers so they work another job. It’s their second job,” said Hamilton.
Already this weekend, there will be some in person audiences for the Miss Connecticut competition.
“We are going to be sitting six feet apart,” said Jillian Duffy, Miss Connecticut 2020. “We are having a smaller audience and we are doing satellite.”
History was made in 2019 when Miss America left New Jersey for Mohegan Sun but then history was made again for the reigning Miss America and Miss Connecticut because there were no competitions in 2020. So they are now the longest reigning crown holders.
Jillian Duffy has been Miss Connecticut for 22 months now and knows what it’s like to have this home field advantage for the national competition.
“A lot of fans and support and love,” said Duffy. “I definitely know how they’re going to feel walking on the Miss America stage in Connecticut and they’re going to feel amazing.”
“We’re advancing the message of female strength, independence, and empowerment,” said Mohegan Tribal Council Member Patricia LaPierre.
The contestants are now considered candidates who are vying for a very high profile job.