Monday, January 16th, 2012
By Betty Lawrence
Bryan says pageant 'beyond expectations'
  CELINA - As Miss Ohio Ellen Bryan sat in the Las Vegas airport waiting for a flight back to Ohio on Sunday evening, she said she was extremely happy to have been a part of the 2012 Miss America pageant and felt a sense of relief that the competition was over.
Bryan, 23, of Celina, competed in preliminaries all week and final competition Saturday evening. Miss Wisconsin Laura Kaeppeler was crowned Miss America with first runner-up going to Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson; second runner-up, Miss New York Kaitlin Monte; and third runner-up, Miss Arizona Jennifer Sedler.
"It was a good time, beyond my expectations, and now that it's over, I feel similar to how I felt after the Miss Ohio pageant - relieved," Bryan said. "I'm still Miss Ohio for six more months and plan to keep busy as the titleholder."
Bryan was named a finalist for the Quality of Life award and also was a recipient of a gold medal Duke of Edinburgh award for her community service. This international award honors excellence in community service, talent and physical fitness, and this is the first year the pageant has handed out the award.
Although being a part of the Miss America pageant seemed daunting, Bryan said the contestants were understanding and supportive. She said many of the contestants related to each other and swapped stories.
"I was thinking maybe there would be some that were catty, but it was not like that at all," she said. "Everyone understood that you just do your best. I feel good about all I did."
Bryan sang "On My Way" from the musical "Violet" for the talent portion and wore a fitted gown featuring red lace for the evening wear competition. Her pageant platform on lightning safety will continue, she said, adding she has been a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for three years.
Bryan said she particularly enjoyed seeing the filming process firsthand.
"We filmed all over Las Vegas and were able to go behind the scenes at the 'Phantom of the Opera,' where we got to meet the cast," she said.
Following Saturday's pageant, the contestants assembled in a ballroom and then were permitted to join their families.
"During the whole week of competition we weren't allowed, really, to spend time with our families. The security was very tight everywhere we went," Bryan said. "It almost was like we were celebrities. People would call out when we were out in public. It was incredible."
Bryan also is bringing home a special gift from Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.
"She gave each of the 53 pageant contestants a piece of jewelry that included one of the crystals from her Miss America crown," she said. "It was so thoughtful of her, and I will always treasure it."
Bryan is a graduate of Celina High School and Ball State University. She is a former Miss Lake Festival Queen and was crowned Miss Ohio in June.
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