by MIKE CHAIKEN
ATLANTIC CITY– Bridget Oei of Hebron became nearly the first Miss America from Connecticut since Marian Bergeron did it in 1934.
Oei, who was crowned as Miss Mountain Laurel in Southington in December and who competed the previous year for Miss Connecticut as Miss Southington, was first runner-up at Miss America, just missing the crown to Miss New York Nia Franklin.
Franklin was crowned Sunday night as Miss America 2019 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. during a telecast on ABC.
During the finals, Oei again and again passed over the scholastic competition hurdles. At the beginning of the night, she was the very last candidate to be named to the top 15. And through the top 10, top 5, and finally top 2, Oei ticked off one more level of the night’s competition.
Finally, at the end of the night, Oei stood hand in hand with Franklin. And when it was time for first runner-up to be named, Oei heard her name—meaning Franklin was the inner.
For the Miss Connecticut program, it was the highest placing at the national event since Kaitlyn Tarpey, who also had been a Miss Southington, made the top 10 as Miss Connecticut 2013.
This year’s competition marked a change in the Miss America format—dubbed Miss America 2.0. Lifestyle and fitness, i.e. swimsuits, had been jettisoned. That phase of competition—during the preliminaries—was replaced by an on-stage question from the judges. During the finals, it was replaced by the on-stage question and a peer-to-peer question, which was asked by one contestant to another contestant.
PHOTO by MIKE CHAIKEN