MYSTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — The iconic “Show us your Shoes” parade is making its return to kick off a three-day celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of Miss America. The parade kicked off at the Mystic Aquarium Monday morning.

The event included 51 titleholders from every state, including Washington D.C., who are vying to become the next Miss America.

The Miss America hopefuls were dressed up with decorated shoes representing something from their home state or a charity with whom they work closely.

Shentel Krebs, the CEO of Miss. America organization, told News 8, “In 1945, we awarded our first scholarship for $5,000. Now, in 2021, we award over $5-million in scholarships a year.”

A lot of hard work goes into this national competition, and no one knows that better than News 8’s very own Alyssa Taglia, Miss. Connecticut 2016, and parade host.

“It’s an iconic part of the Miss America competition…and they have fun costumes, dresses, and shoes representing their states and personality,” Taglia explained.

Five years ago, she represented Connecticut in the parade dressed in a Yankee Doodle costume, which is Connecticut’s anthem, with pony shoes.

The parade is a stroll down memory lane for previous winners of the competition. They’ve used the tools learned here to guide their futures.

Nia Imani Franklin, former Miss. New York, said, “Being that I am a composer as well as a songwriter, as well as a performer – singer – [the competition] definitely gave me a wider audience.”

Heather French Henry, Miss. America 2000, added, “I became the commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, led a very large state agency in my home state.”

And representing Connecticut this year is Sapna Raghavan. She described her costume for the parade, saying, “My theme is honoring the Hartford Courant. Super, super special to me because over 256 years they have covered the Declaration of Independence, the Women’s Suffrage Movement, and Miss. Americas throughout history.”

The Miss. America pageant will be held in December at the Mohegan Sun Arena.