Miss America 2011: Contestants gear up for tonight's big show... with a traditional shoe parade






You might think the Miss America contestants would spend the night before their big day anxiously rehearsing their lines and practising their walks.

Instead the girls took part in a quirky parade that has become an integral part of the pageant, parading down the Las Vegas Strip ahead of tonight's nationally televised pageant.

Dressed to represent their home states, the 53 contestants were taking part in the traditional shoe parade.

Who will win? Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan, left, followed by Miss Nevada Cris Crotz and Miss New Hampshire, Krystal Lee Muccioli walk in the Show Us Your Shoes parade as part of this week's Miss America festivities

Who will win? Miss Nebraska, Teresa Scanlan, left, followed by Miss Nevada Cris Crotz and Miss New Hampshire, Krystal Lee Muccioli walk in the Show Us Your Shoes parade as part of this week's Miss America festivities

The event was a nod to the pageant's beginnings in Atlantic City, New Jersey, when an annual procession on the boardwalk spawned a tradition.

back then in the 1920s spectators would shout at contestants riding past in open-topped cars, asking them to show their shoes.

They hoped to embarrass the women, because they wore elaborate dresses but casual shoes since nobody would see their feet.

The girls eventually responded by displaying decorated footwear, and shoes eventually became the highlight of their outfits.

Cheesy pose? Cali Young, Miss West Virginia, Kimberly Brooke Sawyer, Miss Wisconsin, Alicia Grove, Miss Wyoming, and Cris Crotz, Miss Nevada, talk together before the start of the parade

Cheesy pose? Cali Young, Miss West Virginia, Kimberly Brooke Sawyer, Miss Wisconsin, Alicia Grove, Miss Wyoming, and Cris Crotz, Miss Nevada, talk together before the start of the parade

In Las Vegas, the girls held their handcrafted shoes aloft for a crowd of about 3,500.

Many shoes this year would have been unwearable as decorated.

Dressed as Marilyn Monroe, 19-year-old Miss California Arianna Afsar showed off a high heel decorated as the famed Hollywood sign, then belted out: Happy birthday, Miss America, to celebrate the pageant's 90th birthday.

'My shoe represents the glitz and glam of Hollywood, and I'd like to thank my mom for spending so much time to make this shoe,' Afsar told the crowd.

Wannabes: The 53 girls from all over the U.S. pose together ahead of tonight's ceremony

Wannabes: The 53 girls from all over the U.S. pose together ahead of tonight's ceremony

Miss Delaware, Kayla Martell
Kelsi Crain, Miss Louisiana

Hometown girls: Miss Delaware Kayla Martell and Miss Louisiana Kelsi Crain strut their stuff

Miss Connecticut Brittany Decker, 21, displayed a high heel with a basketball hoop and ESPN written on the backboard in homage to the University of Connecticut and the home of the cable sports network.

While 24-year-old Miss Alaska Abby Hancock held a high heel turned Christmas sleigh, telling master of ceremonies Robin Leach: 'Santa lives in Alaska.'

Miss Louisiana Kelsi Crain, 20, said she thought about going with a New Orleans Saints theme but was happy she stuck with Mardi Gras.

'We've coined the phrase "Bon temps rouler" for "Let the good times roll,"' she said.

'Now the Louisiana delegation is just here to share a little taste of what a Mardi Gras celebration is like.'

Only in Vegas: the girls paraded down the strip, as a crowd of holidaymakers gathered to watch

Only in Vegas: the girls paraded down the Strip, as a crowd of holidaymakers gathered to watch

Crain, a kinesiology student from the University of Louisiana-Monroe, said she was at first surprised when she learned the pageant queens would be showing the shoes instead of wearing them.

'We had to order two pairs of shoes, one that we could wear and then one that we had to decorate, so now I just have a spare shoe sitting at home,' she said.

The Miss America pageant takes place tonight in Las Vegas. It is screened on ABC at 9pm EST.

There's no place like home: Lauren Werhan, Miss Kansas, dreamed of Dorothy

There's no place like home: Lauren Werhan, Miss Kansas, dreamed of Dorothy






Miss America 2011: Contestants gear up for tonight's big show... with a traditional shoe parade
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