The Miss America “Show Us Your Shoes Parade” began in 1921 as a simple event to showcase The first Miss America contestants and has grown to be a spectacle perhaps unequalled in any pageant. Originally it had nothing to do with shoes but just a simple parade down the boardwalk to draw attention to the pageant and showcase the contestants.
The “Show Us Your Shoes Parade” is an Atlantic City original. The story goes that in 1972, spectators on balconies along New York Avenue spotted pageant contestants after rehearsals and shouted, “Show us your shoes!”
The women ignored the shouts and did not comply, not because they didn’t want too but because they were wearing slippers. “The next year the women got smart,” parade Executive Producer John M. Best said. “They started designing shoes and it caught on. They’re the ones who created the shoe showing event. This didn’t come from anywhere else, this didn’t come from any other city, this came from Atlantic City as part of the Miss America Pageant.”
The “Show Us Your Shoes Parade” seems to have a fan club of its own separate from the pageant. Parade watchers thoroughly enjoy seeing each state contestant exercising unlimited expression in designing footwear to display as the car she is riding on slowly makes the boardwalk trip. Responding to the cries of “Show Us Your Shoes!” Every contestant proudly shows off her creation by either extending their leg high in the air or by holding the shoe in their hand for all to see.
Last year as the pageant returned to Atlantic City, Best had indicated that the show would, “Blow away” the audience, and it certainly delivered. The parade filled the nearly 2-mile route down the Atlantic City boardwalk before an estimated 200,000 spectators.
This year Best said, “This parade will be bigger and better with 12 more units, more marchers and more excitement than last year,” (which had 14 marching bands; 49 dancing groups; 14 floats and 16 choirs.) “This year we have many more local participants than we have ever had. It requires a lot of co-ordination and planning as it is a huge project and we always want to continue the parade traditions.”
The parade draws participants from as far away as North Carolina, but according to John Best and Creative Consultant and Staging Director/Choreographer for the “Show Us Your Shoes Parade,” Michael Hartman, they focus on opportunities to include local groups whenever they can.
“The Show Us Your Shoes parade has indeed become such a wonderful way to highlight tradition, culture, professional and local talent. For organizations like the Greater Ocean City Theatre Company being involved in the parade creates memories that our youth and professional performers will cherish for many years to come,” said Hartman.
Regarding the planning, “We review all the applications submitted requesting to be a part of the parade and we try to take as many as possible that will fit in our two hour time frame,” said Best. Quickly adding, “The parade starts at The Revel Casino at 5:00 pm and the last unit gets to Convention Hall about 7:00pm which is about half way with the parade continuing down the boardwalk to the end making the event a total of 31/2 hours,” said Best.
Putting together an event of this magnitude requires considerable planning and the help of many volunteers. According to Best, “We start with an overall plan that will provide the best experience for the viewer. We incorporate the number of performers, the number of bands and all the other elements. There are 53 convertible cars that carry the contestants and a float for The former Miss America’s and The current Miss America.” Best added, “There are about 100 elements, Floats, Bands, Performers, Specialty Units plus the cars. Thankfully we can count on our 400 volunteers to help us make this a wonderful event for everyone.”
The enthusiasm from Best is infectious. “The Show Me Your Shows Parade” has tremendous traditions. It has been quite an event for many years. For us to produce a parade on The Boardwalk with this kind of history is a great experience.”
“We are thrilled to be back again this year once again working with The Miss America Organization. We have added a new website this year for those who would like to find out more about the parade, “showusyourshoes.com,” added best.
John Best’s team is no stranger to large productions, “We produce about 70 of these events around the country including locally The Philadelphia Thanksgiving Parade which this year will have the newly crowned Miss America as a part of The Thanksgiving parade tradition.
Best’s TV production and directing credits include 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas parades; the Academy Awards; and the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2002 Olympic Games, and now he is adding The “Show Me Your Shoes Parade” to his outstanding list of successful major events.
The “Show Me Your Shoes Parade” will be on Saturday, September 13, 2014 beginning at The Revel Casino at 5:00pm. Ticket prices for seats between Arkansas and Connecticut avenues are $22.50 and are on a first come first serve basis and can be obtained by contacting The Miss America Organization. On the Organizations site you will also find a map showing all the free viewing areas.
In addition, new this year, The Miss America Organization have contracted with 2 companies. You can reach out to any one of them and book your chair directly through them. They are:
Royal Rolling Chairs, LLC
114 S. New York Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401 (609) 347-7148
Ocean Rolling Chairs
190 S. Sourh Carolina Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ (609) 377-1133
This year Rolling Chairs on The ocean side of the boardwalk between Kentucky and New York Avenues can be rented for $75.00 per chair.