Surf dip on tap in NJ for new Miss America


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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - The new Miss America will start the first day of her reign the same way most of her predecessors did _ with a frolic in the Atlantic City surf.

Nina Davuluri will also speak at a news conference Monday at Boardwalk Hall, where she became the first contestant of Indian heritage to win the crown Sunday night.

The 24-year-old native of Syracuse, N.Y., wants to be a doctor and is applying to medical school, with the help of a $50,000 scholarship she won as part of the pageant title.

She is the second consecutive Miss New York to win the Miss America crown, succeeding Mallory Hagan, who was selected in January when the pageant was still held in Las Vegas. The Miss America Organization will compensate Hagan for her shortened reign.

Moments after winning, Davuluri described how delighted she is that the nearly century-old pageant sees beauty and talent of all kinds.

"I'm so happy this organization has embraced diversity," she said in her first news conference after winning the crown. "I'm thankful there are children watching at home who can finally relate to a new Miss America."

Davuluri's pageant platform was "celebrating diversity through cultural competency." Her talent routine was a Bollywood fusion dance.

Davuluri's victory led to some negative comments on Twitter from users upset that someone of Indian heritage had won the pageant. She brushed those aside.

"I have to rise above that," she said. "I always viewed myself as first and foremost American."

Her grandmother told The Associated Press that she cried when she saw the news on television.

"I am very, very, happy for the girl. It was her dream and it was fulfilled," 89-year-old Vege Koteshwaramma said by phone from her home in the city of Vijaywada, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

She said there are numerous doctors in the family, both in the U.S. and India, and that if her granddaughter wants to become one, "I am sure she will do it."

Asked about her granddaughter appearing in a bikini, given the conservative attitudes about such things in India, Koteshwaramma said: "I haven't seen any such thing. This must be all part of the competition."

Davuluri had planned to go to the scene of a devastating boardwalk fire in the New Jersey communities of Seaside Park and Seaside Heights on Monday afternoon. But pageant officials canceled that visit after learning that Gov. Chris Christie was making cabinet officials available at that same time to business owners victimized by the fire.

Davuluri will visit at an unscheduled future date, pageant officials said.

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Associated Press writer to Omer Farooq in Hyderabad, India, contributed to this report.

___

Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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