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Gary, Indiana, hopes beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Gary, Indiana, leaders hope the beauty pageant will draw interest in the city  

City leaders hope pageant will lead to dollars

GARY, Indiana (CNN) -- The city of Gary, Indiana -- known for its steel mills and the birthplace of the musical Jackson family -- is hoping beauty will lead to a face lift.

The upper Midwest city will host the Miss USA beauty pageant Friday night for the first time, a move that city leaders hope will boost its attempts to draw tourist dollars to the economically challenged community.

On the pageant's 50th anniversary, host William Shatner -- of "Star Trek" fame will "boldly go where no" previous Miss USA contest has gone before.

"There's no better way to boost your image than to bring in 51 beautiful, smart, intelligent ambitious women into your city," said pageant representative Mary McMillan.

The city has been busy in advance of the pageant. The city's convention center has been improved. Broken windows in abandoned buildings have been covered by brightly painted boards.

"Once we rid ourselves of all these little ugly sites ... I mean, it's a lovely place to be," Mayor Scott King told CNN.

Pageant show will broadcast film on city

Community leaders are hoping pageant fans and viewers watching the event on television will look past Gary's urban blight and see dollar signs for the city's possibilities.

Miss Indiana, Sarah J. McClary, expresses her initial surprise to the idea of holding the pageant in Gary  

Gary spent $2.8 million to host the pageant until 2003, a deal that initially surprised some contestants. City leaders said they expected the deal to boost sales tax revenue and investment in area businesses, according to the Gary Post-Tribune.

"Of course the initial reaction was, 'Gary... that's a little odd,'" said Miss Indiana, Sarah J. McClary.

During the broadcast, which will be seen by millions of viewers, the city will be the subject of a 12-minute film highlighting Gary's positive aspects, according to the Gary Post-Tribune.

It's no coincidence that financier Donald Trump owns a casino and hotel in Gary as well as the Miss USA pageant.

CNN Chicago Bureau Chief Jeff Flock contributed to this report.

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City of Gary

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