Rhode Island swelling with pride over Miss Universe

Friday December 21, 2012

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- The city of Cranston is known -- sort of -- for being the one-time home of the Narragansett Brewing Company, and it scored a mention in the Jim Carrey flick "Dumb and Dumber."

But the city has suddenly found itself at the center of the universe.

The nation’s smallest state has gone big on pride after Cranston native Olivia Culpo snagged the Miss Universe title on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, beating out 88 other women from six continents to bring the title back to the U.S. for the first time since 1997.

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung calls it "mind-boggling" to have his city of 80,000 residents, the third largest in Rhode Island, put on the map for an international audience. He says Culpo’s win is inspirational for the city, state and nation.

"To have Olivia perform the way she did, with the poise that she did, coming from where she came from, it provides this really feel good moment," he said Thursday. "She’s going to be a wonderful ambassador for Cranston in particular, her hometown, but our state and our country."

Fung gave the 20-year-old Boston University student a key to the city after she was crowned Miss USA in June, the first time anyone from Rhode Island had won the title. A tree was also planted in her honor at City Hall, and a band of students from the local high schools played. Culpo herself is an accomplished cellist.

Fung said she can have another key to the city -- or whatever she wants -- given her beauty pageant promotion.

"She is the center of the universe," he said.


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