By Maddy Vitale
Move over, Atlantic City.
You’re not the only Jersey Shore town that has a great Boardwalk parade featuring a bevy of beauties.
Amid shouts of “Show us your shoes,” Ocean City matched the glitz and glamour of Atlantic City’s Miss America Parade with its annual Miss New Jersey Parade.
Twenty-eight contestants vying for the Miss New Jersey crown showed off their fancy footwear to the thousands of adoring, cheering spectators, lining the Boardwalk from Sixth to 14th streets.
The parade featured a “Women in History,” theme marked by contestants portraying such luminaries as Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra and Amelia Earhart.
The celebration kicked off pageant week which culminates Saturday night, with the Miss New Jersey 2018 pageant at the Music Pier.
“Everyone is really excited about the theme this year. I love the diversity of the women the contestants chose to feature,” Parade Director Karen Mahar said.
The parade is a family tradition for the Pflomms of Wyomissing, Pa.
Nora Pflomm, 8, said she may like to be in pageants one day. And every year, she along with her mom Libby Pflomm and cousins Susan Ziemer and Mary Garman-Miller, all of Pennsylvania, put on their tiaras and head to the parade.
“We love the parade. We have gone from dollar store tiaras up to Ta-Dah,” Susan Ziemer joke.
Miss New Jersey Kaitlyn Schoeffel, of Egg Harbor Township, who is ending her reign Saturday night when she crowns her successor, waved and flashed a bright smile to the spectators from her perch on a huge float.
Accompanied by marching bands and motorcycles, the contestants rolled down the Boardwalk in convertibles and on floats.
One contestant with strong hometown connections is Natalie Ragazzo. The 22-year-old who is Miss Coastal Shores is from Ocean City. She portrayed Evita Peron, who was the first lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952, and served as the inspiration for the Broadway musical “Evita.”
Perhaps sensing her hometown advantage, she connected with the crowd by smiling, laughing and waving as the spectators cheered for her and called out her name.
Another local contestant is Miss Cape May County Michelle Wanner, of Sea Isle City.
The parade and pageant are among the family friendly events staged by Ocean City and other organizations throughout the peak summer season to draw vacations to town.
Among the out-of-towners were the Kurek family, who said the parade is wonderful.
Emilie and Brian Kurek and their children Willow, 2, and Corinne, from Uniontown, Pa., never miss the parade.
“We are having a great time. This is our second year coming to the parade,” Emilie said. “The kids love it.”