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Miss America: Crowds are loud and proud in support of their favorite contestants
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BY EDIE GROSS
LAS VEGAS--Fans of Miss Kansas wave giant sunflowers every time she takes the stage at the Miss America Pageant.
You can spot Miss Wisconsin's cheering section by the blinking lights on their ties and lapels.
And Miss New Jersey's fan club waves colorful light sabers in the darkened Planet Hollywood Resort auditorium.
Like sports fans, those attending the pageant wear their allegiances proudly, carrying handbags and placards and sporting buttons, badges and T-shirts with their contestant's photograph on them.
Once seated, they frantically wave cardboard cutouts spelling out the name of their state. That's no small feat for the group from Pennsylvania, which needs a dozen people to pull it off correctly. Even Maine had some trouble Wednesday night, holding up its "E" backwards.
They whoop and holler and whistle. The only things missing are those giant foam No. 1 fingers--and maybe a beer belly or two painted with the likeness of one of the competitors.
"We get very loud," said Sandi Partridge, the aunt of Miss Washington Devanni Partridge, who carried her niece's picture on a stick. "We're going to be screaming."
The Virginia contingent has been mighty loud as well, carrying posters bearing a large photo of Spotsylvania County's Caressa Cameron on them, with "Teen Wolverine" written underneath. Cameron, 22, says kids used to call her wolverine when she was younger because she had a unibrow and sideburns.
There was no sign of either Wednesday night when the radiant Miss Virginia flawlessly answered an onstage question about her platform: educating teens about the dangers of AIDS and HIV.
While some contestants rambled about everything from underage drinking to women's health issues, Cameron provided a concise and informative response with her trademark megawatt smile--no "ums" or "uhs" here.
"I try not to rehearse, and I try not to anticipate questions because I think you'll find yourself stumbling over thoughts--thoughts of what you wished they'd asked you," she said afterward. "I think if you live in the moment and think about what they truly asked you and answer that question based on what you already know you're more likely to have a fluid answer."
For regular updates on Miss Virginia Caressa Cameron's bid to become Miss America and to post messages for her, visit fredericksburg.com and listen to 99.3 The Vibe today between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m.
The Miss America Pageant airs live Saturday at 8 p.m. on TLC. Tonight at 10, TLC will show "America's Choice Revealed: TLC's Miss America Behind the Curtain," which will allow viewers to help vote some of the contestants into the final competition.