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Spotsylvania resident Caressa Cameron begins her busy reign as Miss America
Caressa Cameron of Spotsylvania was crowned Miss America in Las Vegas on Saturday night. She is the third Miss Virginia to win the title.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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BY EDIE GROSS
LAS VEGAS--Jerome Cameron had a feeling.
The Spotsylvania man had watched his daughter win plenty of pageants over the years.
There was the Miss Junior Fredericksburg Fair Pageant when she was just 14 and still wearing braces.
And later, she won Miss Greater Springfield, Miss Chesterfield, Miss Hanover and Miss Arlington, before capturing the Miss Virginia crown in June.
So with his daughter, Caressa, one of three women still in the running at Saturday night's Miss America Pageant--and only one name left to be read by host Mario Lopez--Jerome Cameron calmly prepared for another win by straightening the black-and-white handkerchief in his suit's breast pocket and whispering to his wife, Lavern.
"I adjusted my handkerchief and said, 'We're getting ready to be the parents of Miss America,'" he said afterward. "She just looked at me."
"I just prayed," added Lavern.
Seconds later, Caressa Cameron became the third Virginian to win the Miss America crown, and the first ever from the Fredericksburg area.
"Congratulations, Miss Virginia, you are the new Miss America," Lopez told the stunned 22-year-old, who turned to him and shouted, "No way!"
"Yes way, yes way," he said.
Lavern Cameron was so shocked that when she joined her daughter on stage at the Planet Hollywood Resort theater, she did so in a beautiful red dress and sneakers--accidentally leaving the fancy shoes she'd brought along for public appearances back at her seat.
Later, when Robin Leach, a Las Vegas blogger and former host of "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," asked Caressa about her crowning moment, she described it as a surreal one. She could see the crowd on its feet cheering, but the bubble around her was quiet, peaceful.
"You're sitting there and praying, 'Thy will be done, thy will be done.' That's what I kept saying," she said. "They called my name. I was like, 'Oh my.' It was like God's will for me to be Miss America at this time, and I'm so excited and so blessed to be."
'SHE JUST HAD AN EDGE'
If the moment felt quiet for Caressa, it was anything but for Team Virginia--the friends, family and Miss Virginia Pageant officials who filled four or five rows at the back of the auditorium.
Just ask Bruce Perelmuter.
HOME: Spotsylvania County
EDUCATION: Graduated from Massaponax High; attended Germanna Community College for two years and is a senior at VCU, where she's on a break while fulfilling her pageant obligationsCOLLEGE MAJOR: Communications with a focus in broadcasting; wants to be a television news anchor SCHOLARSHIP MONEY WON: $87,000 from pageants, including $52,000 for winning the Miss America crown and the preliminary talent competition
Cameron is scheduled