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Thrown Bottle Hits Parading Miss America Contestant

September 16, 1989

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A Miss America contestant was hit in the head by a bottle Friday night while riding in the glittery Miss America Parade on the resort’s famed Boardwalk.

Miss Oklahoma Tamara Denise Toshiko Marler, 26, was taken to Atlantic City Medical Center after the bottle struck her forehead. She has a concussion and has a slight bruise on her forehead, said hospital spokeswoman Sherry Spatz.

She was admitted to Atlantic City Medical Center for observation Friday night and was listed in stable condition, said pageant director Leonard Horn.

Pageant officials removed several large bouquets of flowers from the pageant anchor station and delivered them to Miss Marler’s room.

″If everything is OK as we expect it to be, she’ll be back tomorrow morning,″ Horn said. Her assailant, he said, ″was obviously some malicious moron who hoped he could hit something, and obviously he did.″

The bottle struck Miss Marler but did not cut her, said Atlantic City police Detective Sgt. Sam Rando, who was with her in the emergency room.

″She was very calm,″ he said. ″She was aware of everything that was going on, answering the doctors who were asking her questions.″

Later, Miss Marler became dizzy when doctors asked her to walk around the emergency room, Ms. Spatz said.

If Miss Marler is able to compete Saturday, doctors ″may, depending on her condition, ask her to refrain from wearing high heels,″ Ms. Spatz said.

The incident occurred around 9 p.m. as the open convertible Miss Marler was riding in passed Texas Avenue. Miss Marler told the doctors that she did not black out when struck with the bottle.

Miss Marler, a University of Tulsa marketing graduate, became a likely top 10 finalist by winning a preliminary talent competition Wednesday. She sang an audience-grabbing rendition of ″Since I Fell For You.″

Several thousand pageant fans and tourists had lined the Boardwalk to view Friday night’s parade. The finals in the Miss America Pageant are Saturday.

Horn said the decision to switch the parade from Tuesday to Friday did not change the mood of the crowd, but he said he might reconsider the parade’s future after the incident with Miss Marler.

In past years, some contestants have been injured in the annual parade by slipping or falling, but there has never been an incident as serious as the bottle-throwing, Horn said.

Unlike past years, the crowds were discouraged from following the tradition of calling out, ’Show us your shoes 3/8″

In years past, many of the 51 contestants - but not all - would lift a leg to reveal a funny shoe - sometimes even giant boots or sneakers - under their fancy parade costumes. The crowds would laugh and applaud their approval.

Pageant director Leonard Horn said that state pageant directors, at their annual meeting in November, asked the national pageant to drop the ″shoe″ tradition.

″They wee concerned that some contestants utilized the tradition more than others,″ he said. ″People were concerned that we treat everybody equally.″

Some of this year’s contestants were renegades, however. Miss Virginia Tami Renee Elliott showed off her high heels and shrugged. Miss West Virginia Lisa Lynn Bittinger held up her leg in glee.

Before the bottle-throwing incident, Miss Marler showed off a bare foot. Moments later, a cheering section of state fans showered her with confetti, streamers and an eruption of noise.

Each contestant wore a glamourous outfit, many featuring fur stoles, sequins and feather boas. The only group that sported more feathers than the contestants were the Quaker City String Band, featuring elaborate Mummers outfits of blue and white.

To make up for the lack of funny shoes, some contestants carried props. Miss Vermont Catherine Stillinger wiggled a cow puppet. Miss Wyoming Alisa Mavrotheris carried a teddy bear and wore a cowboy hat.

The Miss America Parade featured Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as the grand marshals. They rode in a 40-foot ″Li-MOUSE-ine, featuring a 24-karat-gold Tinkerbell hood ornament.

The 63rd annual Miss America Pageant will air on NBC-TV at 10 p.m. EDT Saturday.

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