Get ready to call out “Show us your shoes” on Sept. 14 as the Miss America Parade returns to the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
With it will come the time-honored traditions of the 53 contestants riding along the planks in convertibles, processions of marching bands hailing from multiple states, and floats showcasing former Miss America winners.
There will also be changes. A performance area will be added in front of Boardwalk Hall for various production numbers. Local students will form a Miss America Youth Choir backing up a performance of “God Bless America” by Miss America 2013 Mallory Hagan, and hundreds of dancers from the region will be part of a dance performance along the Boardwalk.
The two-hour event processing from Revel to the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will be put together by Emmy Award-winning producer John Best and his teams from JM Best Entertainment and Under the Sun Productions.
“Our first goal is to continue the tradition. Our next goal is to add a lot more to it,” said Best, who is based in Orlando, Fla., and has produced the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade in Washington, D.C.
The Miss America Organization officially kicked off its parade planning Wednesday by soliciting for acts to take part in the event, now dubbed the Miss America Show Us Your Shoes Parade. Applications are available on the Miss America website and will be accepted until June 15.
The return of the parade means the return of another large event for the Miss America Organization. No comparable event leading up to the competition was held during the years the pageant was in Las Vegas, aside from an event in 2010 celebrating the pageant’s 90th anniversary, said Sharon Pearce, the organization’s vice president.
“This is an incredible opportunity for all of us to enjoy the rich history of the pageant and its return to Atlantic City,” Pearce said.
Best said the goal is to preserve the history of the parade while adding some changes intended to boost its enteratinment value. While the organization began looking for parade act applicants Wednesday, schools and other organizations are also being approached and asked to participate.
“Our main focus is New Jersey. We’re trying to get as much participation there as possible,” Best said. “We’re sending out invite letters as well letting people know they can apply to be in the parade.”
Most groups selected for the parade will pay a participation fee. Selected marching bands, commercial groups including casinios, and nonprofit organizations will pay $200 to $500 to be in the parade, according to the applications available online.
The costs are steeper for commercial and nonprofit groups using floats. A self-built float entry, which must be “family-friendly” and receive approval from the parade committee, will cost $2,000. A $4,000 package will buy a float base that can be enhanced by the group, and an $8,000 package will buy a professionally designed float with theming options, according to the applications.
In the past, the parade was judged and scholarships were given out to school bands, but that will no longer be the case. The parade will be purely for entertainment, Best said. Plans are also in the works to have the parade televised, though it’s not clear what station might be involved. The 2004 parade was televised by Comcast’s CN8.
Other details have yet to be worked out. Previously contestants in elaborate shoes and costumes rode along the Boardwalk in cars from local residents who participated year after year. The contestants will be riding in convertibles, but it’s not yet clear what cars will be used, Pearce said.
Best said he had meetings with Atlantic City Mayor Lorenzo Langford about a week ago to discuss the process of securing the parade route along the Boardwalk. Security at outdoor events has become a key topic for public safety in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings.
“Our number one priority will be the safety of the event,” Best said.
Contact Jennifer Bogdan:
Follow @ACPressJennifer on Twitter