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Beauty, brains and a Brooklyn attitude - Bay Ridge stunner heads to Las Vegas to compete in the 2007 Miss America Pageant

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Here’s a rarity: Residents from throughout Bay Ridge will be turning into Country Music Television (CMT) Monday night to watch with rapt attention as Bethlene Pancoast – the neighborhood’s adoptive daughter – vies to become Miss America, 2007. Speaking from the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, the 25-year-old Miss New York, who came to the Empire State and the Borough of Churches by way of Pennsylvania, said she will be comforted with the knowledge that residents in her neighborhood will be cheering for her. “I’ve been in Bay Ridge for the last three years,” said Pancoast. “Ever since I was a child I wanted to live in New York City, but I fell in love with Brooklyn.” Questioned about what she loves best about the Borough of Churches, and Bay Ridge in particular – Pancoast doesn’t hesitate to rattle off a litany of restaurants she frequents on 3rd Avenue, as well as Spumoni Gardens on 86th Street – one of her favorite pizza places. She says that she likes to order a lot of take-out as she juggles her graduate school studies in real estate finance and her job as a property manager in Manhattan. And, oh, by the way, she is also Miss New York 2006 and travels across the state promoting her ideas for a Teen Task Force, which “helps teens help themselves.” After that, every free millisecond was spent preparing for the Miss America Pageant. Luckily, all that take-out hasn’t hampered her chances, or her figure. “I have a feeling that New York is going to do well,” said Pancoast as she prepares to be the first New Yorker to win the 86-year-old contest since Vanessa Williams, who won the title in 1983. “[The other contestants and I] are having an awesome time,” she said. “It’s very much like a sisterhood. I’m honored to be in the same company with so many intelligent and beautiful women.” If she wins, she expects that receiving the Miss America crown will be just as sweet as when she was named Miss New York, thanks in part to her desire to help troubled teens as well as her special talent. She’s a hoofer. Or, more appropriately, an a-capella tap dancer. “It’s hard to sleep wearing the crown,” she joked. “But I kept it on until 3 or 4 in the morning.” The 2007 Miss America Pageant will premier live January 29 on CMT.

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