By Cleve Bryan
ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (CBS) – It was the tale of two cities Wednesday in Atlantic City with Miss America contestants strutting on the boardwalk and laid off casino workers filling out unemployment applications at the Convention Center.
Unite Here Local 54 and the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development assembled a resource center to connect workers with a variety of assistance services.
Close to 6,000 casino employees are expected to be out of work once the closures of the Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza are complete by September 16.
Derrick Holden lost his job as a specialty chef at the Revel and was among about 500 workers at the resource center on Wednesday.
“It’s hard to know that you’re losing your job. We knew maybe two months in advance and it’s hard to figure out what’s going to happen next, what’s going to be your next move,” says Holden.
Lori Baucom was also at Revel and wiped tears away as she talked about trying to find a local job so she doesn’t have to pull her three children from school.
Working at the Revel’s award winning spa, she never imagined being in such a bind.
“The hardest part was standing in line and asking for food. That’s kind of humiliating when you’re used to doing pretty well,” says Baucom.
Mayor Don Guardian stopped by the Convention Center and encouraged people in the community to get involved if they have neighbors laid off.
“Knowing that we’re closing these (casino) doors and putting people out work was just devastating for all of us but this is a time to come together, this is a time to rally,” says Guardian.
A rally of a different sort drew a crowd at Kennedy Plaza on the boardwalk where there was an arrival ceremony for the 53 Miss America Contestants.
Miss New Jersey, who is from Galloway, addressed the pageant and current state of the Atlantic City region.
“As the daughter of two casino workers it’s monumental to partake in this historic event so thank you for helping bring life and energy back to Atlantic City,” said Cierra Kaler-Jones as she took the stage.
Pageant officials are also mindful of the local struggles.
“Most of us have our hearts going out to those who lost their jobs. I believe not only are we going to provide some entertainment but provide some hope,” says Sam Haskell, chairman of the Miss America Organization.
You may also be interested in these stories: