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PHOTOS BY BRAD LOVELL PHOTOGRAPHY Conquering Queens Under a new directorship, the Miss United States Pageant marches on D.C. and conquers our nation’s capital with only beauty and elegance. t’s hard to imagine a better backdrop for an event as illustrious and patriotic as the Miss United States Pageant than Washington D.C. as the setting during the week of America’s Independence Day. More than 140 women of all ages gathered in the nation’s capital to compete for the various titles of the Miss United States Organization, but also to show their immense respect for what this incredible holiday is all about. The week began on the eve of July 4th, with the delegates arriving to meet and greet each other, some for the first time, while for others it was a reunion of old friends. Each woman also needed to take some time to get used to the new location, as this year marked the first time that the Miss United States Pageant was held in I 68 PAGEANTRY Washington D.C. Previously, this magnifi- cent event could only be found in Las Vegas; however, the Entertainment Capi- tal of the World simply can’t hold a candle to the Capital of the Free World on July 4. “We are truly excited to hold our na- tional pageant in the District of Columbia during our country’s 236th birthday cele- bration,” said Christopher W. Wilmer, National Director of the organization, prior to the big week. “Not since 2004 has a national pageant had a parade, and never has a national pageant marched on our na- tion’s capital on the 4th of July. We feel right at home here and would love to see this as an annual event. As you know, in order to have a 1st annual, you must have an inaugural. We hope everyone will be able to join us for this historic event as we BORN ON THE 4TH OF JULY: (L-R) Miss Jr. Teen United States Paige Holloway, Miss Teen United States Lacey Morgan, Miss United States Nikki Poteet, and Ms. United States Ashley Dickerson. have been greeted with such enthusiasm.” Right he was, as Independence Day was a busy one for the Miss United States con- testants, with the first item on their agenda being an appearance in the Capitol Hill Parade. For those who have never experi- enced the Capitol Hill Parade, it is a mon- umental, time-honored tradition for the District’s locals, with everyone from local teachers and business owners to military personnel and politicians marching to show their respect and love for America. Need- less to say, the Miss United States Pageant delegates and crew were right at home. Up next for the 55 Miss contestants was a trip to see the hometown Major League Baseball team, the Washington Nationals, as they hosted the San Francis- co Giants. The first place Nationals don’t need much help in adding wins these days, but that didn’t stop the Miss United States contestants from cheering them on any- way. And it worked like a charm. The Na- tionals defeated the Giants 2-0, but not before the reigning Miss United States 2011 Ashley Smith serenaded the crowd with not only the Star-Spangled Banner before the game, but “God Bless America”