Archived News | Return to News Center

January 22, 2010

ULM’s Putnam heads for Vegas and Miss America Pageant in style

Hours before sunrise on Thursday, Jan. 21, a cadre of bleary-eyed but supportive fans arrived at the Monroe Regional Airport to send Miss Louisiana 2009 Katherine Putnam off to compete in next week’s 2010 Miss America Pageant.

Putnam took the pre-dawn airport arrival and several flight delays in stride, smiling for the cameras and giving interviews, a fleur-de-lis decorated carry-on bag in tow.

By Thursday afternoon, she had joined with other Miss America contestants for an official arrival ceremony at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas before settling in to prepare for the national competition.

The 23-year-old is a senior music performance major at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and a former Miss ULM (2007). Two other special ULM students – Putnam’s younger brothers, Jonathan and Jeremy – joined her on Thursday morning.

Other ULM representatives, including First Lady Deborah Cofer, were also at the airport for the early morning send off.

Putnam’s father, Byron, who had driven up from Mandeville the night before, stayed through the morning to say his final goodbyes. When his cell phone buzzed over breakfast, it was Katherine’s mother, Heather, wishing her well and asking Katherine to call during her layover in Dallas.

“It’s just part of my life,” acknowledged Mr. Putnam, whose entire musically-talented family has been a featured presence in several Miss Louisiana appearances since Katherine was crowned Miss Louisiana in June.

Numerous Miss Louisiana Organization board members proudly tout 2010 as the year Louisiana will savor two long overdue achievements: A Super Bowl victory and the Miss America crown. The board members were on hand for Thursday’s farewell event and will fly out early next week as preliminary competition heats up in Vegas and a round of public appearances begin for Putnam.

No send-off for Putnam would have been complete without the support of her spiritual family at First United Methodist Church. Pastor Larry Stafford was just one of the representatives from the church, where Putnam leads a contemporary music group.

The flight delays served as an opportunity for Stafford and others to delve into warm memories on Putnam and her family over breakfast. Stafford recalled the time a young church member ran into Putnam at the mall and later remarked to the pastor how impressive it was that “Katherine is the same person out there as she is in church!”

“And that’s the truth, she really is,” he said.

Byron Putnam noted how Katherine, the oldest of six children, toddled on tiptoe early on – perhaps an early sign of her destiny as a high-heel wearing Miss Louisiana.

“I admit, I do have a shoe fetish!” she laughed.

Several hours past the original 6:15 a.m. departure time, Putnam boarded the plane, admitting she looked forward to taking a brief en-route nap before Thursday’s arrival in Vegas.

Next week, she joins the Alpha Group of the Miss America contest and will be judged in several areas including Artistic Expression (Talent); Presentation and Community Achievement (Interview); Presence and Poise (Evening Wear); and Lifestyle and Fitness (Swimsuit).

The final night of competition includes the Lifestyle and Fitness, Presence and Poise; Peer Respect and Leadership; Artistic Expression; and Top Five Knowledge and Understanding competitions.

Putnam heads to competition as the National Miracle Maker award-winner, having raised over $13,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network. The non-profit organization raises funds for more than 170 children’s hospitals around the country.

Preliminary competition begins Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. and the final Miss America Pageant will air at 7 p.m., CST., Jan. 30 on the TLC Channel.

Because of limited space and shipping costs, supporters are asked not to send gifts to Putnam while she is in Las Vegas. Instead, pageant officials encourage fans to send cards and letters to the hotel’s address at 3667 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nev., 89109.

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.