Saturday is the day for shoes in A.C.
ATLANTIC CITY Anyone with a shoe obsession would have been in heaven.
An L-shape skirted tabletop lined with the mostly over-the-top footwear that will be worn by Miss America contestants during Saturday night's "Show Us Your Shoes" parade - the night before the actual pageant - was unveiled Tuesday to a throng of reporters who got first look at the sparkly amalgamation of leather, sequins, feathers, studs, and glitter.
Saturday's big parade - some locals say they like it even better than the actual Miss America contest itself for its grassroots fun and fanfare - had been a tradition since the first pageant was held on the Boardwalk in 1921.
Showing off their shoes became a thing in the 1970s, when folks on balconies along New York Avenue, where the parade entered the Boardwalk, noticed that the dressed-to-the-nines contestants seated inside chauffeured convertibles were either barefoot or wearing bedroom slippers instead of high heels that would have better matched their outfits.
"They started yelling 'show us your shoes' to the contestants," said John Best, executive director of the Miss America Show Us Your Shoes Parade. "So the girls would lift up their feet and show they had no shoes on or were wearing slippers. Then the girls got smart and started a tradition of decorating their shoes and getting more and more elaborate."
Pageant officials decided to take it to a new level this year - naming the parade after the tradition and revealing the shoes five days before the event.
This year's array of designs ranges from Miss New Jersey's beach-theme steppers to a Mardi Gras look for Miss Louisiana.
- Jacqueline L. Urgo