The contestants of the 2009 Miss Universe Pageant graced Grand Bahama with their presence yesterday for the swimsuit competition, all one step closer to the coveted title.
The 84 beauties, who hailed from various pockets of the globe, brought the great lawn at the Our Lucaya Resort to life with a colourful display of designer swim wear, under the theme: "Perfection in Mo-tion."
Residents turned out in large numbers to be a part of the historic occasion as the Bahamas is the smallest country ever to host the world renowned pageant.
Hosted by Shelly Carey and Donald Glass, the event opened with remarks from the Director General of Tourism, Vernice Walkine, who lauded all Bahamians for their continued support.
"This may be the smallest country to host the event, but we have the biggest heart." she said.
"The pageant is going exceptionally well and the people of The Bahamas have responded so well to our guests and have welcomed them in grand style."
Walkine noted that the pageant is a national event not exclusive to Nassau, Paradise Island and the contestants will have an opportunity to visit many islands around The Bahamas to receive a truly Bahamian experience that they will remember for years to come.
Following Walkine re-marks, president of the Miss Universe Organization, Paula Shugart thanked the Grand Bahama community for their hospitality and noted the event was the first time that all of the contestants were together for the pageant.
"I think that there was not a better place to have this swim suit competition than here in Grand Bahama. The view here is spectacular and I would have a hard time getting the contestants to leave." Shugart said.
She also revealed that for the first time, the preliminaries of the competition, which begins next week, will be video streamed on the world wide web.
Following her remarks, the first 12 contestants were introduced in alphabetical order by country, to a cheering and excited crowd.
Among the first 12 was Kiara Sherman, the current Miss Bahamas, who ripped the runway in a one piece red and white striped swimsuit.
She and the other contestants moved to the beat of Bahamian music played by a live band as crowd members rose to their feet in a frenzy and cheered Sherman on.
Attendee, Tanya Cox said that never before has she been so proud of the Bahamas in a beauty competition.
"She really looks good and gives us hope that we can have a fighting chance to win."
Another crowd member, Derrick Martin, said that compared to the other contestants, he was doubtful of Sherman's ability, but after this event, he is confident that she can win.
"There has been a lot of talk about her, but as they say you have to come to the source," he said.
"She looks just as good as the rest of the contestants and Bahamians really have to support their own."
Janice and Debbie Fowler predicated that Miss Bah-amas will place in the top 10 at the pageant on August 23. Representatives from The Philippines, Jamaica and the United States also had many supporters at the event.
According to Betty Bethel, general manager of business development in the Ministry of Tourism, The Bahamas will receive international exposure from the competition that will hopefully boost our tourism industry.
"We will receive world-wide exposure as the coverage of Miss Universe reaches many countries and the impact from the fans, staff crew and different families who will follow this pageant will be enormous," Bethel said.
Before the swimsuit competition the reigning Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, visited the Garden of the Groves where she shot footage for her final walk that will be aired during on NBC the finals.