I've heard whispers from people I trust that Paula's integrity has been impressive under all the heat this week and that she has been working hard behind the scenes to save the pageant as best as she can. This doesn't surprise me - I met her a couple of times when I was in Vegas for Miss USA 2012 and I could clearly appreciate how love and respect for the contestants and the organisation. I have no reason to believe it's any different this year. Whilst I think MUO sorely needs a new owner, I hope Paula continues in her role.
It was bad enough losing the broadcast but imagine if the host city or venue had turned their back on the pageant. Instead, Mayor Kip Holden reiterated his support for Miss USA and the contestants have been welcomed with typical southern hospitality. I love Baton Rouge as host of Miss USA. After five years in Vegas it was time for a fresh start and I love the enthusiasm with which Baton Rouge has embraced the Miss USA pageant - from the officials to the media to the community. No longer are the girls doing the Vegas cookie cutter round of casinos, shows and nightclubs, they've been visiting local businesses, supporting community organisations and taking in local history. I love seeing all the appearances the contestants make in BR and it has all been covered by NOLA.com, the Times Picayune and the "Krewe de Crown" - a posse of local social media bloggers who have been privy to events and posting from behind the scenes. NOLA.com has also posted some fantastic articles about the Miss Louisiana USA titleholders, making the point that they're more than just pretty. Of course I love them for that!
It is clear from following the contestants on social media that the host hotel is going out of its way to welcome the contestants. Again, imagine if the host hotel had also backed out? From personalised coke cans to stuffed alligators to apple pie after the preliminary competition, to the managing director clearly being such a nice guy that he's appeared in numerous candid photos with the contestants who are raving about how nice he is - it's nice to have a hotel who cares. They've even brought in Erin Brady to go behind the scenes on social media!