After years of dreaming, and months of preparation, Miss Michigan Angela Venditti begins her journey today to be crowned Miss America.
Venditti, of Shelby Township, was Miss St. Clair Shores when she was crowned Miss Michigan in June. Since the Miss Michigan Pageant in Muskegeon, she has been preparing for the Miss America Pageant Jan. 12 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino.
"It has been a whirlwind," said Venditti, who has traveled thousands of miles and covered nearly the entire state. "There has been a lot of planning for Miss America."
Since the crown was placed on her head in June, the 24 yearold has been crossing the state in Chevrolet Volt, speaking to audiences and representing the Miss America pageant to groups, organizations and participating in America's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit.
She has spoken before 9,000 Boy Scouts at Michigan State University, but also smaller groups where she shares her platform "Above the Influence: Keeping Kids Drug Free."
"No matter what group I am with, or who I am speaking with, when I ask who has been been affected by substance abuse, undoubtedly many hands go up," Venditti said.
Her platform will get a larger audience in the coming days as Venditti participates in the Miss America preliminary competition starting Tuesday and leading up to the Miss America Pageant Saturday, Jan. 12, which will be broadcast on ABC-TV.
This will be Venditti's third trip to the pageant - the first two times were as a spectator.
"It is going to be fun to be in it," she said.
Venditti has also received tips from previous pageant contestants.
"They have all said don't forget to have fun," she said. "It gets busy and it gets stressful, but have fun. It is quite an opportunity."
And how do you wish someone luck in the pageant?
You tell her "break a fingernail," Venditti said.