Once there, frolic organizers placed the young women in an “Inter-City Beauty” contest in which the judging was largely based on their general appeal in appearance, personality, conversations with the judges, and interactions with the crowds.
In order to build hype, the women were later put in the running for the Golden Mermaid trophy given to “The Most Beautiful Bathing Girl in America.” Margaret Gorman swept both events.
With no rule barring her participation, she finished as a runner up.
But her inclusion fueled the fire started by women’s and religious groups against the competition as lacking in decorum.
They competed against the winners of “professional” and “amateur” ranks, representing over two hundred women, for the elusive Golden Mermaid.
Riding on a wave of popularity from the previous day, Margaret Gorman won this event, too.
The next day, based on the popularity of the visiting Inter-City Beauties, they were also entered into the Bather’s Revue.
Jumping on the extra media attention the newspaper contests elicited, frolic organizers decided to include yet another event just for them: the “Inter-City Beauty” contest to be held September 7th.
It was judged on 50 percent audience applause and 50 percent judges’ decision after a day of mingling with the contestants, and a final appearance on stage.
Sixteen year-old Margaret Gorman, “Miss Washington, D.
C.” (and a Mary Pickford look-a-like) would eventually win the Watkins Trophy in this event.
In 1928, the protestors won, and the pageant was discontinued as commercial supporters withdrew in response to accusations that the pageant lacked decorum.