Miss Crustacean remains loyal to the Jersey Shore

Like Miss America’s love-hate-love relationship with Atlantic City, beauty pageants at the New Jersey Shore may come and go.

But one that will apparently never leave its beloved perch in Ocean City is the Miss Crustacean Hermit Crab Beauty Pageant, a tongue-in-cheek event that will return to the Cape May County resort for its 40th year on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

“We would never move the pageant to Las Vegas or any other location,” said Mark Soifer, founder of the pageant and chairman of the National Association of Crab Activities at the Beach, or NASCRAB.

Soifer was making a veiled reference to the Miss America Pageant’s decision to pack up and move to Vegas six years ago. Miss Am is returning to Atlantic City this fall after garnering a new deal to air the pageant on network television.

But no one was really worried about Miss Crustacean crawling off for sandier shores, taking the also popular Hermit Crab Races along with it. The racing event, in which 150 or so hermit crabs plod along an eight-foot oval, will follow the pageant, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. on the beach at 6th Street.

“Don’t believe the rumors you’ve been hearing. We will stay put. Ocean City has the perfect family atmosphere for our family extravaganza,” Soifer said. “We know where we belong.”

Indeed.

So Soifer says America’s “most glamorous Crabettes” will congregate on the beach to vie for the “Coveted Cucumber Rind Cup,” which is equivalent to a year’s supply of groceries for a hermit crab if supplemented with a healthy dose of tree bark and pizza crust for fiber and a dash of swamp water. The contestants will amble down a flower bedecked runway to the strains of “Here She Comes, Miss Crustacean.”

The pageant stands as the world’s best showcase for decorated hermit crabs, which are presented by their owners in colorful displays, backdrops and costumes. This year’s winner will be following in the claw-steps of such greats as Crabunzel, Pirates of the Crabibbean, and Crabopatra, Soifer said.

So popular is the contest, Soifer contends, that it has been part of a Jeopardy question and been named one of the nation’s 10 most unusual events by U.S. News & World Report.

Entry in both events is free and there is no preregistration required. More information may be obtained by calling 609-525-9300 or e-mailing Soifer at msoifer@hotmail.com.

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