Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

It's Hot: Miss New Jersey Pageant

If you hear people yelling "Show us your shoes" on the Ocean City boardwalk on June 11, rest assured that nobody wants to see your flip-flops.

Because that's the day 24 contestants from all over the state will roll into town for the 2015 Miss New Jersey Parade and subsequent three days of pageant competition. They'll bring with them as much spandex and bugle beads as they can stuff into their suitcases for the glitz and glamor extravaganza.

"It's definitely a little something different for us once a year," says Mark Soifer, Ocean City's public relations guru, who usually plans such spectacles as the annual French fry sculpting contest.

But wearing his crown as media relations official for the pageant, Soifer has helped put together a parade that will feature all the contestants and the reigning Miss New Jersey, Cara McCollum. They will be presented in a line of convertibles, in a free boardwalk event, themed "The Red Carpet on the Ocean City Boardwalk."

There is certain to be some high-kicking going on, as spectators traditionally beg contestants to show their shoes and the beauty queens oblige by lifting their feet to reveal often over-the-top footwear.

"Over this past year, I have really enjoyed all the traditions that go along with being Miss New Jersey and competing in the Miss America Pageant," said McCollum, a blonde native Arkansan, who had just completed her junior year at Princeton University when she won the title last year. "I love the 'Show Us Your Shoes' thing."

"It'll be fun to go back to Ocean City again," McCollum said. " . . . lots of fun places to eat on the boardwalk," noting her favorite guilty pleasure is ice cream - any flavor.

McCollum, who speaks with wit about her days wearing the crown for the Garden State, said one of her fondest - but perhaps most unglamorous - moments during her reign happened along the Jersey Shore when she was booked for an appearance at a tournament aboard a fishing boat. The memory, of course, involves shoes.

"I showed up wearing what I thought was good - a modest-heeled, rubber-soled boot and a cute little rain jacket," McCollum said. "But they said 'No way.' They had to completely re-dress me. They put me in rubber boots borrowed from a fisherman's wife and an old dirty yellow rubber jacket . . . and I thought, 'Wow, it's come to this.' "

- Jacqueline L. Urgo

Pageant Details

The Miss New Jersey Parade will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 11, on the Ocean City Boardwalk. The parade will be free and open to the public.

The first night of preliminary competition for the pageant will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 12, at the Ocean City Music Pier, Boardwalk and Moorlyn Terrace, followed by a second night of preliminary competition at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 13. Tickets for each preliminary competition night are $35 a person.

The final competition night, when a new Miss New Jersey will be crowned, will start 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 14. Tickets are $50 a person. A three-night package is $110. For tickets, call 609-315-1423.

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