The loveable, retro kitsch-fest that is the Miss America Pageant took place this weekend, and the parade of earnest Midwestern baton-twirlers and bright-eyed Southern belles pledging world peace felt to the Transom like something out of another world, or at least another America. So it was the surprise of the night when the winner was announced: Miss New York, Park Slope resident Mallory Hytes Hagan.
Ms. Hagan isn’t native to the hipster-filled borough in which she currently resides. (And, no, her talent was not creative nonfiction.) Born in Alabama, she moved to New York several years ago and lived all over Brooklyn, from Bed-Stuy to Williamsburg, before finally settling in Park Slope. As she wrote on her blog, “In the time I’ve spent in New York, Brooklyn has grown very close to my heart. I love New York (and not in a tourist T-shirt kind of way) dearly and I truly believe this is the city where dreams come true.”
But just how Brooklyn is Ms. Hagan—sorry, Miss America? Lydia Lam, an orthodontist who lives in Park Slope, was unaware of Ms. Hagan’s victory but thought it was something that Park Slopers could embrace. “That’s really great for her,” she said with a laugh. “I think that’s good, because I feel like Brooklyn is a bit of a melting pot, and in that way, it can be representative of America,” said Ms. Lam, who doesn’t think Ms. Hagan’s Alabaman heritage makes her any less of a Brooklynite. “That’s exactly what Park Slope is—a lot of people who move to New York,” she added. “I myself didn’t grow up in Park Slope.”
In general, however, the mood among Ms. Hagan’s fellow Park Slopers is a mix of apathy and mild amusement. And in classic Brooklyn fashion, those who are celebrating Ms. Hagan’s victory are doing do so with a dash of irony.
Chris Genua, the general manager at the Double Windsor, created a drink special in Ms. Hagan’s honor: The “Mallory Hagan”: a pint of a local beer and an Alabama slammer for seven bucks. “It’s more of a funny thing, especially in this neighborhood,” said Mr. Genua of Ms. Hagan’s victory. “It feels like a funny thing that Miss America is walking amongst us.” Mr. Genua describes the mood among patrons as apathetic. “When people found out, they would sort of smile and shrug and not order the drink,” said Mr. Genua, laughing. “I’m sure people would be more excited about it in Alabama.”
It’s true: back in Alabama, Ms. Hagan’s fans aren’t quite so jaded. Dr. Shakela Johnson-Ford, director of guidance at Hagan’s high school alma mater, is delighted at Ms. Hagan’s victory. “I think it’s awesome!” she told the Transom. “The residents here are just as proud as if she’d won the competition as Miss Alabama.”
Ms. Hagan is the first Miss New York to win the pageant since 1984, when the winner, Vanessa Williams, had to resign after taking part in a nude photo shoot. Let’s hope that Ms. Hagan’s Alabaman roots will help her resist the city’s libertine ways and keep her grounded (and clothed) for the duration of her reign.
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