Memories of Miss America’s days in Atlantic City are about as common in the resort as rolling chairs, saltwater taffy and slot machines.
So why not record them?
Fans of the competition, started in Atlantic City in 1921 as an intercity beauty pageant, can do just that at a Miss America Memories Video Booth set up inside Boardwalk Hall.
The booth opened in July, and since then about 100 people have stepped inside to share their stories.
“I remember staying up with my brothers (and my mother) and all of us picking out somebody different we liked to win and placing bets. My father usually fell asleep,” Elynn Taylor Shapiro said after recording her memories in the booth of her family watching the competition on television.
Her father, she said Thursday, would inevitably wake up and say, “I knew that one was going to win.”
The memories make Shapiro smile.
“I think it’s fantastic that (Miss America) came back to New Jersey,” she said. “To me, the Boardwalk is as much a treasure as Mount Rushmore. It’s the original people mover.”
Now, she and her ex-husband, both regular visitors to Atlantic City from their respective homes in Red Bank and Ocean Township, Monmouth County, plan to develop new memories by taking their daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren to this year’s Show Us Your Shoes Parade on the Boardwalk on Saturday.
“Any opportunity to do something with family should be taken,” Alan Shapiro said.
Kim Butler, director of communications for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority, said those family memories and the idea of recording them motivated the agency to bring in the booth.
“People have such great memories and great stories about Miss America,” Butler said.
Inside the booth, a recording by Miss America Mallory Hytes Hagan guides visitors through the recording process.
Butler said the recordings can be as long as three minutes, though most of the 100 or so already received have been about one to two minutes long.
Users can have links to the recordings sent to their email accounts, so they may post them on various social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The booth will be in Boardwalk Hall through the end of September, after which the CRDA will compile the recordings on its website at njcrda.com.
Butler said the contestants, former Miss Americas and fans are encouraged to record their own memories.
Alan Shapiro said he didn’t record a video, but he, too, had fond memories of Miss America.
“It was an annual thing to watch with the family. It was the end of summer, but this was a way to make summer continue,” he said.
On Saturday, the Shapiros will take their family, including grandchildren Aidan, 7, Emme, 5, and Lilah, 1, to the parade and make new memories, possibly to be recorded, along the way.
“For my grandkids, it will be like a Disney movie coming to life,” Taylor Shapiro said.
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