BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Thousands have welcomed Miss America Cara Mund back to her North Dakota hometown.

About 2,000 people turned out Saturday for Mund's welcome-home party in Bismarck. Young girls and boys cheered when North Dakota's first Miss America appeared at the Bismarck Event Center.

Mund told the crowd that — whether young girls are in North Dakota or in a rural area — they can make their dreams come true if they work hard.

The 23-year-old was crowned Miss America in September. Saturday was her first homecoming party, and before the event she stopped at Sanford Children's Hospital to visit patients.

Heidi Allbee brought her two girls, 10 and 3, to Mund's homecoming. Allbee told The Bismarck Tribune it's a "source for pride" for North Dakota to finally have a Miss America.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com