Sunday, August 23, 2009

Miss Universe contestants practice before event

Miss Universe contestants practice before event

NASSAU, Bahamas – Dozens of beauty queens sporting sunglasses and toting suitcases made an informal parade down a wide hotel hallway Sunday, thrilling tourists as they headed to dress rehearsal hours before the Miss Universe pageant.

They walked quietly, pausing only to wave and smile for tourists had gathered at the Atlantis Hotel to buy last-minute tickets for the event. Some bystanders raised cameras or hoisted children on their shoulders for a better view.

The more than 80 contestants will appear in cocktail dresses when they walk onstage as the pageant starts. Judges will announce the 15 finalists, who will reappear in bathing suits. The final 10 will be chosen before the evening gown segment and the final five will take questions from the judges.

Many contestants have suffered from dehydration in recent weeks, and Jewel Selver, Miss Turks and Caicos, went home Saturday to recuperate, said Esther Swan, Miss Universe spokeswoman. Selver was one of eight contestants from Caribbean islands.

A winner will be crowned by the reigning Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza of Venezuela.

Some 2,700 tickets had been sold by late Saturday out of the 3,100 available, according to tourism officials.

The televised event includes musical performances by Flo Rida, Heidi Montag, David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. Hosts are Billy Bush, co-anchor of "Access Hollywood," and Claudia Jordan, former Miss Rhode Island USA who has appeared on several TV shows. Judges include actor Dean Cain and supermodel Valeria Mazza.

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