By Jacqueline Monahan
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Miss America 2009 Contestants Celebrate IHOP’s National Pancake Day to Benefit The Children’s Miracle Network

The best and brightest, and some would argue the most beautiful group of young ladies to assemble in one room converged on Ballroom One of the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino on the morning of January 16 to participate in the annual pancake breakfast sponsored by the International House of Pancakes (IHOP).  Miss America was definitely in the (pancake) house.


The annual breakfast is in honor of IHOP’s National Pancake Day that benefits The Children’s Miracle Network, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals.  These young women are not so far from their own childhoods themselves so the subject is near to their hearts.   IHOP’s National Pancake Day celebration is a nationwide fundraising effort that aims to raise $1 million for Children’s Miracle Network programs at children’s hospitals and other local charities throughout the United States.

You can tell them apart by their garment bags, sashes and tiaras, like sparkly antennae, atop blonde, red, chestnut and raven black hair in lengths from bouncy to sultry and languidly long.  Miles and miles of bright white smiles radiated throughout the rather dimly lit ballroom.  Dressed in a variety of styles, from jeans to gowns, in full makeup and au natural, the ladies cheerfully (the event started at 7 a.m.) armed themselves with aprons and spatulas and took their places around several large expanses of griddles, ready for buttermilk batter along with friendly banter.


For awhile it seemed as if states beginning with a vowel had the flapjack flipping advantage, with Miss Alaska tossing and catching an astonishing 10 pancakes in a row.  Miss Idaho, Miss Ohio and Miss Arizona, Erin Brittany Nurss (22) looked on in admiration.  A consonant state did join in the fun, as Miss New Jersey, Ashley Fairfield (22), a statuesque brunette tried her hand.

I also sought out Miss Nevada, Reno native Julianna Erdesz (24) and found a showgirl-tall brunette whose career goal is to be a Broadway performer.  A blonde Miss Illinois, Katie Lorenz (24) had one of those smiles that could guide a jet to a safe landing through thick fog.  They don’t call it a beauty pageant for nothing.

Since 2007, IHOP has been hosting a National Pancake Day celebration, and their restaurants across the nation give away free short stacks of their famous buttermilk pancakes to guests, inviting them to leave a little something behind (about what they would have paid for the pancakes or more) for Children’s Miracle Network and other local charities. In 2008, IHOP gave away more than 1.5 million pancakes and raised over $875,000 on National Pancake Day.  If put into a stack, that many pancakes would be an astonishing twelve miles high!



IHOP is inviting guests to come back for National Pancake Day on Tuesday, February 24, 2009 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. to help make a difference in the lives of children who need it most, one pancake at a time.

As they prepare for 2009 Miss America Live! To be broadcast on TLC on January 24, from Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, the 52 Miss America contestants (including Miss District of Columbia and Miss Virgin Islands) can be seen around Las Vegas on a variety of junkets, usually appearances for charitable events.

The Miss America Organization (along with its state and local organizations) is the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women, making more than $45 million available last year alone.  Miss America travels approximately 20,000 miles a month, changing her location every 24 to 48 hours. She tours the nation committed to helping others and is the official Goodwill Ambassador of Children’s Miracle Network.

So once again your humble correspondent found herself in a room full of carbohydrates and charisma, amid young women who represent the best that America has to offer. They are valedictorians, belong to honor societies, and compete (and win) scholarships for excellence – in academics, athletics, and community service.  There are brains to go along with the beauty, and compassion among the cosmetics.  And those are some of their loveliest attributes.

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