The Miss America parade is getting a television-friendly makeover as the tradition returns to Atlantic City in September for the first time in nine years.
The Sept. 14 parade will be televised live for the first time, Miss America Organization CEO Sam Haskell told The Associated Press on Monday. It's scheduled to air live on WPVI-TV, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia, and again the next day as part of the lead-in for the Sept. 15 pageant finals, which will be shown on ABC nationally.
"We're supersizing the parade," Haskell said. "We're supersizing the telecast."
Some local groups have complained about the cost of getting a float in the parade this year — at least $2,000 compared with $200 in 2004, the last time it was held.
Haskell said higher fees will help pay for a more spectacular event designed to show off Atlantic City.
The parade on the boardwalk harks back to the roots of Miss America, when the pageant launched in 1921 as a way to drum up business for the shore resort after Labor Day.
The pageant is getting reacquainted with fans shouting "Show us your shoes!" to the contestants in convertibles, among other traditions, when it comes back to Atlantic City.
It's not clear exactly how long parade-goers have been shouting to the women. But Haskell said that since at least the early 1990s, the women have elaborately decorated their shoes — Miss Maine's have often had lobsters on theirs, and you can count on Miss Texas wearing cowboy boots — and obliging by displaying them proudly.
Miss America left its hometown for Las Vegas after 2004 and except for one year when there was a walking parade there, the show-us-your-shoes tradition disappeared.
Producer John Best, who puts on eight parades annually, including the National Independence Day Parade in Washington, was hired to run this year's edition.
Best said the route will run along the familiar boardwalk, but now starting at Revel Casino-Hotel, a shimmering glass structure that wasn't yet built the last time Miss America was in town.
He said the 4,000 participants will include two youth choirs; convertibles carrying the contestants; 15 elaborate floats, including one featuring veterans back from Iraq and Afghanistan; dancers and a performance area for TV purposes. Local Girl Scout troops and Red Cross chapters will be represented.
The first of the 22 marching bands will be — as it has long been — the one from Atlantic City High School.
But Best said another one will be an all-star marching band from high schools around Atlantic County. That's an element he said he hopes to become a tradition.