by MIKE CHAIKEN
The journey toward Miss America for Wolcott’s Alyssa Taglia ended Sunday night as the reigning Miss Connecticut failed to make it to the final round of competition.
When the names of the 15 women going on to compete in the finals were announced, Taglia was not among them.
Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields won the crown and is now Miss America 2017.
Before Sunday’s night broadcast, Taglia participated in three nights of preliminary competition earlier in the week.
On Tuesday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Taglia participated in the talent phase, performing a tap dance to Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.”
Interviewed in Atlantic City during the week of preliminaries, Taglia said, “I felt very good (in talent). The stage is very slippery for a tap dancer. That took a little adjustment. I just did the best I could. I’m very happy with my performance. I really got into the music. I got into my footwork. I couldn’t complain. There’s nothing more I would change.”
The second phase of competition for Taglia was on Wednesday, the onstage question. “My onstage question was about my platform ‘Smiles for Seniors, Enriching the Lives of Seniors Across America,’ a program I started when I was 12 so they asked me how to encourage other people to become involved with working with our elderly and volunteering to enrich their lives.”
“When they asked me about that, it was easy to speak about it. It’s something that comes from my heart. It’s something I’m very educated on. I spent my whole life volunteering for our elderly I was happy I was asked about that and I was able to share my experiences and how to get others involved,” said Taglia.
The third phase of competition for Taglia was Thursday night when she participated in evening gown and lifestyle and fitness (swimsuit).
After Thursday’s preliminary, Taglia spent two days participating in appearances with the other contestants. On Saturday, she did a walk to raise funds for cancer research.
On Saturday, Taglia participated in a Miss America Parade of Shoes through Atlantic City. Each contestant wears a costume—and shoes—that reflect their home state.
“So my shoes (were) Yankee Doodle. ‘Yankee Doodle’ is the Connecticut anthem. So I actually have pony shoes because the song goes, “Yankee Doodle went to town, riding on a pony. So I chose pony shoes. Fun fact, I made the shoes with a great group of people in just three days.”
“The experience has been amazing,” said Taglia of the Miss America competition in Atlantic City. “I’ve been here for two weeks and you wouldn’t necessarily think 52 girls in one place would be a calm experience. But it’s been very smooth. It’s been very relaxing actually. I’m well rested. I’ve been eating well. It’s been an amazing experience and prelims have been going excellent.”
Other than the competition, Taglia said her favorite aspect of the competition has been getting close to her Miss America roommate. “I’m very lucky I got Miss California Jessa Carmack as my roomie. We’ve grown to become very good friends so that’s been my favorite part outside of competition, getting to know the other girls.”
Taglia said of the other 51 contestants (one from each state plus District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), “I love how down to earth everybody is.”
“It’s so funny,” said Taglia, “we’re all indulging in a little bit too much. So we have a great dinner and then there’s a million types of different desserts after every dinner and every single girl is treating themselves.”
“I love that,” said Taglia. “We’re real girls. We’re enjoying each other’s presence. We’re just down to earth and that’s what’s making the experience so amazing.”
Taglia has spoken about how her dream had been to compete at Miss America, having competed in pageants throughout the years before winning her ticket to Atlantic City as Miss Connecticut.
“Stepping out onto stage Tuesday afternoon for practice, it was surreal,” said Taglia. “It was the first time we got to see the Miss America stage, so it was amazing. It’s sort of overwhelming. It’s emotional, it’s exciting. There’s a lot of emotions going through your mind.”
“When it came time for competition, it was even more amazing because the audience filled all those seats that were empty that afternoon,” said Taglia. “You have your family cheering you on. You have friends cheering you on. You have strangers cheering you on. It was a longtime coming. I worked very hard to become Miss Connecticut so it was well worth it.”
Years from now, said Taglia, “I look forward to the time when I have a family of my own and I can share with my children that their mom competed at Miss America and represented Miss Connecticut—and hopefully was Miss America—we don’t know.”
“It took a lot of hard work so I think my sharing this with my children one day, it’s going to be a great story because it’s going to be all about resilience and making sure that whatever dream you have whatever goal you have, it doesn’t always come at first try, just keep going, try your hardest because in the end that’s what makes you successful.”
During her journey to Miss America, Taglia said she had a good deal of support from her home state.
“I’m so blessed. I have an amazing group of people behind me. It really is a village. I want to say thank you to everybody who has supported me along this journey. It made me what I am today,” said Taglia. “This Miss America experience is 100 times better than I could have imagined—and I imagined it would be fantastic because of the people who supported me. So thank you.”