Spotting Miss Florida Myrrhanda Jones during the Miss America parade Saturday won’t be difficult.
She’ll be the one with rhinestoned alligators on her feet.
Worried you might not get a glimpse of Miss Arizona Jennifer Smestad?
You can’t miss her. Just keep an eye out for the girl with a large, glittery cactus on her shoe.
For the first time in the history of the Miss America competition, the organization allowed an early unveiling of the outlandish creations the 53 misses will sport while riding in the Miss America Show Us Your Shoes Parade.
A longtime Atlantic City tradition, contestants for decades have created or inspired their own homemade shoes in themes that represent their states and personalities. The usually wacky shoes are paired with equally unbelievable outfits as the girls cruise down the Boardwalk, perched on convertibles, as an enthusiastic crowd of locals cheer them on.
During a news conference Tuesday, Atlantic City Alliance CEO Liza Cartmell said bringing Miss America back to the resort will hopefully mean more than the economic boost officials are counting on. More than 500 volunteers will help to put on the parade, which has traditionally drawn a largely local crowd. “It’s really about civic pride,” Cartmell said.
While the tradition of decorating themed shoes might sound kooky to some, Atlantic City locals have seen plenty of the wild creations. The women have worn shoes decorated with dice, plush crabs and cupcakes. There have been purple glittered cowboy boots and furry ice skates as well.
The origin of the “Show us your shoes” chant has been disputed over time. Some claim the call was started in the 1970s by men who were eager to see the contestants’ legs. Other accounts say the crowds would call out the chant to embarrass the women who were dressed impeccably but wore slippers underneath their gowns.
Some old themes will resonate again this year. Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh will wear a pair of rhinestoned ice skates. Miss Texas Ivana Hall has a bedazzled pair of cowboy boots planned for the occasion. Meanwhile, Miss New York Nina Davuluri created New York City’s skyline on a pair of black pumps, and Miss New Jersey Cara McCollum appears to have an ocean theme in mind with starfish on her shoes.
The last time Miss America contestants showed their shoes on Atlantic City’s Boardwalk was in 2004. During the years that the competition moved to Las Vegas, there was no parade equivalent. Miss America Organization officials are now enthusiastic about the parade’s return and rush of publicity seen in Atlantic City.
It’s a far cry from the late 1980s, when pageant officials thought that the outrageous footwear had gotten out of hand. Contestants were directed not to show their shoes, but many still gave in to the crowd’s calls. This year, officials say they’re prepared to embrace the tradition.
“The stars over Atlantic City are going to be shining very brightly as we come into our own,” Miss America CEO Sam Haskell said. “For the first time in nine years, the Miss America parade will be on this Boardwalk. It’s going to be an amazing evening.”
Haskell has predicted that a crowd as large as 200,000 could show up for the parade, which had traditionally taken place during a weekday but moves to a Saturday evening this year. Police say they expect to be able to handle a crowd of that size if it materializes.
On Tuesday, officials were still advertising ticketed seating for the event. About 30,000 paid seats will line the route.
Ten free viewing areas will be spaced out along the Boardwalk for those who wish to bring beach chairs or stand.
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