New York The organizers of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade have invited Miss Universe to participate instead of Miss America, who traditionally has had the honor.
Miss America Katie Harman of Oregon had planned to ride in the Nov. 22 parade, but organizers told her this week that they'd already invited Miss Universe Denise Quinones.
Miss America Pageant winners have appeared in the parade since the 1960s, although some have missed it because of scheduling conflicts. Three of the last five before Harman participated.
"It's very disappointing, and we haven't really been given any reasons for the change," the 21-year-old Harman told the New York Post in a story published Friday.
According to the Post, Donald Trump, co-owner of the Miss Universe Organization, pulled strings to get Quinones into the parade.
Not so, said Macy's spokeswoman Ronnie Taffet. No one with the Macy's parade ever talked to Trump about it, she said.
The Atlantic City, N.J.-based Miss America Organization, which in years past called Macy's in advance to ask that the new Miss America be included in the parade, didn't contact Macy's until this week, Taffet said.
In the meantime, Macy's officials who last year opened a store in San Juan, Puerto Rico learned that Quinones was from Puerto Rico and liked the idea of including her, Taffet said.
"Our intention was not to disappoint or upset Miss America. The intention, as always, is to put on the most exciting parade the world's ever seen. We apologize for what seems to be slighting her," Taffet said.
She said there have been talks about including both Miss America and Miss Universe in the parade.