GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - The Miss America Show Us Your Shoes parade is back on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, and a local mother and daughter say they are doing their part to make sure the event stays in the city for good.
With two convertibles in the family, Genine Agnew and her mother, Anna Jezycki, are taking their wheels to the boards - a kind of offering for the Miss America parade, the women said. And it doesn't matter if the vehicles roll down the Boardwalk with a contestant or a dignitary inside, they're just there to help and keep the event local, said Jezycki, 72.
Contestants riding in convertibles such as Agnew's and Jezycki's vehicles will join about 120 groups who will participate in the Sept. 14 parade.
Parade producer John Best, of JM Best Entertainment, said organizers have been bombarded with emails from past convertible drivers who participated in previous parades and would like to return this year.
Entering a convertible is a long process that comes with a lot of paper work, he said. When all the applications are submitted and permits are granted, there will be about 60 participating.
"Every vehicle on the Boardwalk needs to have a city permit, including every convertible and vehicle towing a float. This takes a while for drivers to fill this out and complete the process," Best said. "But I will say, out of all the areas of the parade, the most enthusiastic participants have been the drivers."
"There have been no shortage of convertibles, and there has been no shortage of anything for this parade," Best said.
Jezycki's 2006 convertible PT Cruiser had belonged to Agnew before she purchased a 2012 Chevrolet Camaro convertible last year. Agnew will drive the Camaro, and her husband, Joseph, will drive a contestant or dignitary in Jezycki's PT Cruiser.
"The cruiser was my 40-year-old midlife-crisis convertible, and the day after my 45th birthday, I saw the ads for the new Camaro and I had to have it," Agnew said.
Agnew said she and her mother volunteered to participate in the parade after her husband was approached by fellow convertible owner and past parade participant and driver Earl Budd, who was recruiting convertible drivers for the parade.
This won't be the first time Agnew is in the parade. When Miss America was previously held in Atlantic City, her dance school performed in the parade and had a float for five years.
"This is really an event for young women to look forward to. We need to have this here. Every young girl dreams of being Miss America, and anyone can do it. All walks of life can participate. If you have a dream and you want to do it, you can," Jezycki said.
On Wednesday evening, Agnew had just finished work and drove the short distance one street over to her mother's home for dinner. The women's convertibles were parked in the driveway - shined up and parade-ready with a little more than six weeks until show time.
"Everyone should really pitch in and help if they have a convertible. We all have to help if we want to keep it here. To see this live, back here and coming down the Boardwalk, it's amazing. The contestants are so vivacious and alive," Jezycki said.
Best said potential convertible drivers are required to send in photographs of their vehicles with their applications, and the vehicles must be cleared to be capable of driving along the two-mile parade route, he said.
"Because the parade is on the Boardwalk and around crowds, safety is important, and the application process is very strict and there is a screening process," he said.
But all of the red tape aside, the biggest, most exciting and historical part of the parade is the convertibles driving the contestants, he said. Many family members who have previously participated in the parade are returning this year as Miss America returns to the city.
"It's another great local tradition with this parade, and there's a lot of pride. The excitement for this parade is building like nothing I've ever seen before," he said.
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