Laura Kaeppeler has come full circle.
One year after the Kenosha woman was crowned Miss America, she’s now back in Las Vegas, where she will pass on her crown to the next Miss America on Saturday.
For Kaeppeler it’s been a hectic year, during which she was able to visit her hometown numerous times.
"It was always great to get back home and meet the people and my family and friends" said Kaeppeler. "Kenosha and Wisconsin has always been so welcoming, and I will remember for a long time the many moments when I arrived back home.”
Kaeppeler, 24, rose to national prominence Jan. 14, 2012, when she was crowned Miss America.
Since then, the St. Joseph Catholic Academy and Carthage College graduate has toured the country, traveling as much as 20,000 miles a month with the Miss America organization.
Kaeppeler entered the pageant world on a whim, after Miss Kenosha 2008 Caitlin (Smulski) Gomez encouraged her. Kaeppeler won Miss Kenosha in 2010, then placed second runner-up at Miss Wisconsin. In 2011, she won the Miss Wisconsin competition.
Meanwhile, the 53 young women who hope to succeed Kaeppeler are making final preparations for the national pageant competition and attending many functions and segment tapings for the telecast, which begins at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Preliminary competitions are taking place at Planet Hollywood Resort and Convention Center, the location of last year's pageant. Last year, Kaeppeler, the daughter of Jeffrey W. Kaeppeler and Susan Kaeppeler, was a double preliminary winner in swimsuit and talent.
Kaeppeler is the second Miss Wisconsin to win the crown, following Miss America 1973, Terry Anne Meeuwsen of De Pere.
The reigning Miss Wisconsin, Kathryn Bess Gorman, 23, of Onalaska, arrived in Las Vegas last week.