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No crown, just lasting memories

While she didn’t win the top prize, Bay Ridge’s own Bethlene Pancoast said she truly lived out her dream as she walked across the stage during Monday’s 2007 Miss America Pageant. “I’m going home with no regrets,” Pancoast told this paper in an interview on Tuesday as she packed up her bags at her hotel room at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. “It was an experience of a lifetime.” “I’m taking home with me 51 new friends,” she said about the other contestants she had gotten to know in the days leading up to the pageant. “We’re already planning our reunion.” In the end, Pancoast wasn’t one of the final 10 finalists seeking the grand prize. The cherished Miss America crown ultimately went to Miss Oklahoma Lauren Nelson. But the 25-year-old Pennsylvania native turned Brooklyn stunner did win a non-finalist talent award, which comes with a $1,000 scholarship. “If felt great,” she recalled as she wowed the crowd with her a cappella tap dancing techniques. “I really put my best foot forward.” “[Walking across the Miss America stage] was kind of surreal,” she said. “You can really feel the energy. The lights are on you, everyone is screaming your name or holding signs…it truly was a dream.” Pancoast said knew that all of New York was behind her when she took to the stage. But up front and center were her parents cheering her all the way. “Her onstage stuff was excellent,” said proud mom Rita. “This had been her dream since she was nine or ten – to do her a cappella tap dance on the stage of the Miss America pageant.” While she misses her daughter when she’s in New York, Rita said that she would never complain, because she’s never been happier. “[New York] is truly the place for Bethlene. “She’s a true New Yorker. We’ve been taking her there since she was 10 and she’s always wanted to live there.” With the pageant over, Pancoast said that she has to jump right back into her job as a Manhattan property manager. Her graduate school studies will also be demanding her attention. She will also be fulfilling her duties as Miss New York, making appearances throughout the state as she promotes her platform of “helping teens help themselves.” While the pageant may soon become nothing more than a sweet memory, Pancoast is still being cheered in her adoptive home. As this paper was going to press, Borough President Marty Markowitz was scheduled to honor Pancoast during his State of the Borough Address on February 1. “Miss New York Bethlene Pancoast is a great ambassador for our borough and the Empire State, and a real role model for young people across America,” Markowitz said in a statement. “Not only is Bethlene ambitious and altruistic, she’s a beauty with brains and ‘Brooklyn attitude.’ She may have been born in Pennsylvania, but she knew moving to Brooklyn is the way to make her dreams come true.”

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