GALVESTON, Texas – Down on Galveston Island in the shadows of historic Hotel Galvez, you’ll find an annual celebration dedicated to a bygone era of American history.
You know there’s nothing better in the summer than going to the beach here in Texas, and every May a group of ladies gets together to celebrate our heritage with a little Bathing Beauties Contest.
The Galveston Island Beach Revue has a long history on the Gulf Coast. Will Wright is part of the IBC coalition, short for ‘Islander By Choice.’ In 2009, they decided to revive the saucy extravaganza with a storied past that started in the roaring ‘20s.
“We didn’t know how people would respond to it, and boy they just took off and ran with it,” said Wright. “Yeah, they say that the population would just triple when it came time for the ‘Pageant of Pulchritude’ is what they called it at that time.”
The Revue was renowned for years until the Great Depression put a stop to the celebration. Thankfully happy days are here again as lovely ladies from every corner of the Lone Star State descend upon the island every May.
In this bountiful bunch of beautiful ladies we met Beth Rogers. Representing Beaumont, this mother, wife, and entrepreneur gets a chance to let loose and have a little fun. Turns out, reviving the past takes a lot of work for each of these contestants.
“If this contest was in my hometown, I’m not sure if I would have been as eager to participate,” said Rogers. “There’s something kind of alluring about getting to play dress-up even as an adult woman.”
Rogers routinely takes part in the revue. Being able to celebrate a different time in style, fashion, and attitude makes doing all this work well worth it.
“What I actually like about ‘40s and ‘50s and why I feel comfortable participating being, you know, a 35 year-old mom, is that women in the ‘40s, especially in the ‘50s, ‘60s, the look was a little more voluptuous, a little more full-figured and, so you don’t have to be this like, stick-thin 20 year-old,” Rogers said. “You know, most of the women actually that participate I would think the average age is somewhere in their thirties. And a lot of us, most of us are moms and, you know, we come from all different walks of life and…so that’s neat.”
Each brush stroke, each curl, each step brings a new era back to life. You see this contest isn’t just about beauty, it’s a about celebrating life. But Rogers doesn’t just do this for herself, she also does it for her family.
“So I think [my son] thinks it’s kind of neat that his mom does something weird. Different!” said Rogers.
Then it’s time to compete. With thousand on hand, a most incredible gang of gals struts their stuff.
With different themes, different eras, and all different ages represented, the Galveston Beach Revue is a spectacle for the eyes and connects us to the way of life our parents, grandparents or even great grandparents got to celebrate all those years ago.
“I like seeing people connect to that history that is very important to Galveston and that we get to do something contemporary but still have kind of a historic, fun bend to it is really special,” said Wright.