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A SOAKING DAY FOR SHOW US YOUR SHOES

Sep 15, 2014

By Jacqueline L. Urgo, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
ATLANTIC CITY - Yeah, baby, as always, it was all about the shoes.
Despite persistent spitting rain that began 90 minutes before the Miss America Show Us Your Shoes Parade was to begin, the crowds still crowded the Boardwalk - beneath plastic ponchos and umbrellas - Saturday to glimpse this year's 53 Miss America contestants and cadre of performers including marching bands, twirlers, dance troupes, and even the Philadelphia Eagles cheerleaders.
But on the eve of the pageant, scheduled for Sunday night, nothing upstaged the gals and their shoes, despite the rain glitch that delayed the proceedings and ultimately produced wet hair and some smeared makeup for contestants as they were conveyed along two miles of the resort's Boardwalk in new and vintage convertibles.
The Boardwalk event, which began in the 1970s and was traditionally called the Miss America Parade, morphed into the Show Us Your Shoes spectacle after the pageant made a grand return to Atlantic City after a six-year hiatus in Las Vegas.
Saturday night, as spectators asked to see the footwear, the contestants obliged by extending a leg - or two - into the air to reveal their footwear.
The custom apparently began years ago when the event was more formal, and parade-goers noticed that some of the evening-gowned young women had opted for more casual shoes; some even wore sneakers or went barefoot.
The parade kicked off Saturday night with a two-story-tall silver stiletto, created by Fischer Flowers of Atlantic City, paraded atop a float.
"I think that is just stunning and says it all about what this parade . . . this tradition is all about," said Samantha Bowen, 62, of Egg Harbor Township, a retired teacher who claims perfect parade attendance dating back to when she was a baby - except when the parade moved to Sin City.
"This is a huge tradition in our family . . . a day as big as the Fourth of July for us," said Bowen, who attends every year with more than 20 family members. "We wouldn't miss it, rain or shine."
Most of the contestants appeared in glittery gowns and custom-made footwear to match, decorated in over-the-top, themed looks with feathers, beads, and sequins.
Miss Louisiana, Lacey Sanchez, opted for a Mardi Gras theme with feathered magenta and green stilettos and a similarly decorated second-line umbrella, which she needed thanks to the showers.
Miss Maryland, Jade Kenny, wore platforms that sported glittery red crabs. Miss Minnesota dressed as a Viking and wore glittery boots to match.
Miss New Jersey, Cierra Kaler-Jones, of Galloway Township, went for glittery and strappy gladiator-style sandals that extended to her knees and, with red laces, gave a nod to her school, Rutgers University.
With her Down East sensibilities, Miss Maine, Audrey Thames, seemed to be the only one dressed appropriately for the weather. Shunning a gown for a bright yellow rain slicker and matching rain hat, she wore yellow rain boots studded with rhinestones.
Pageant planners predicted as many as 200,000 people would turn for an extravaganza that included more than 4,000 participants, but organizers said intermittent showers may have kept the numbers down.
"I wouldn't have missed it for the world. We're here to cheer on our girl," said C. Freeman-Jones, of Columbus, Ga., who had arrived with a contingent of about 50 people to cheer on Miss Georgia, Maggie Bridges.
________________________________________
jurgo@phillynews.com
609-652-8382

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