Miss USA: What’s in it for Bossier?

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Bossier City Mayor Lo Walker pictured with Miss Louisiana USA 2018 Lauren Vizza (left); Brandy Evans, Vice President of Communications for the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau (center left); Miss USA Kára McCullough and Miss Teen USA Sophia Dominguez-Heithoff. (Courtesy of Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau)
Amanda Simmons, amanda@bossierpress.com

All eyes will be on Shreveport-Bossier when the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants come to town in May.

Although both pageants will be held in Shreveport’s Hirsch Memorial Coliseum, Bossier City will play a key role in the days leading up to the televised events. The Miss Teen USA preliminary pageant will be held May 16 at the Horseshoe Riverdome, and the Miss USA contestants will be housed at Margaritaville Resort and Casino.

There will also be opportunities to showcase the business market, educational institutes, healthcare facilities and military community.

“They’ll be looking at our community as not just a place to visit, but a place to live, work and raise a family,” Stacy Brown, president of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention & Tourist Bureau, said. “We have a great quality of life here and it’s going to show.”

Contestants will have a chance to visit premier spots like the Bossier Parish School for Technology and Innovative Learning (BPSTIL) and CSRA. Brown would also like to see them visit Barksdale Air Force Base, which won the 2017 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Installation Excellence for the Air Force.

This type of event will feature Shreveport-Bossier in a positive way to national media and international media. The Miss USA pageant will be shown live in about 70 countries worldwide, with an expected reach of 40 million or more social media impressions.

“The amount of coverage we receive will be phenomenal,” Brown said. “One of the best parts about this is they will be here for a considerable amount of time. Something they didn’t have 20 years ago was social media. A big part of the value is each one of the contestants will be constantly talking about their experiences on their social media channels. We are really excited for the opportunity to showcase Shreveport-Bossier to the world.”

Locally, the economic impact is expected to total about $4.5 to $5 million.

Rocky Rockett, Executive Director of the Greater Bossier Economic Development Foundation, said this will be a great opportunity for northwest Louisiana to tell its story to the world.

“The publicity will go a long way,” he said. “This will be a great way to promote Shreveport-Bossier as a premier destination and potentially a recruitment tool to bring in new businesses to the area.”

Residents of Shreveport-Bossier are encouraged to get involved in the process.

“One of the things we’re known for is our hospitality,” Brown said. “I know our community will really roll out the red carpet.”

Brown added that now is the time to make sure both cities are clean and litter free before the cameras arrive.

“They are going to be all over the place in both communities,” she said. “We don’t need to clean just the main streets, but all areas to showcase the beautiful communities we have.”

Women representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia will compete for the opportunity to become the next titleholders. Shreveport native Lauren Vizza will represent the state as Miss Louisiana USA 2018.

This year’s Miss USA show marks the 20th anniversary of the competition’s first appearance in the sister cities of Shreveport-Bossier. Shawnae Jebbia from Massachusetts was crowned Miss USA 1998.

The Miss USA pageant, hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, is scheduled for May 21 at 7 p.m., airing live on FOX. The two-hour special will conclude with the reigning Miss USA 2017 Kára McCullough crowning her successor.

The Miss Teen USA pageant will be held May 17 and broadcast by the Reelz Network.

Shreveport hosted the Miss USA pageant in 1997 and 1998. The city also hosted the Miss Teen USA pageant in 1998, 1999 and 2000.

The Miss USA pageant has been held annually since 1952. The winner goes on to represent the United States in the Miss Universe pageant.