The signature setpiece for the 2019 Rose Parade, with Lela adding some sparkle. The piece was designed by Katie Lipp, graphic designer for the Tournament, and built by float and scenic design company AES. Lipp was a princess on the 2014 Royal Court.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
For many Pasadena area girls, it’s a rite of passage. For some, it’s a time to do something special with their friends. For others, they hope to make a statement. For all, the process is the same: Fill out an application, come to Tournament House on what is usually one of the hottest Saturdays of the year (or Monday for make-ups), get a number, sit for orientation by members of the outgoing Royal Court, and walk the gantlet of Queen & Court Committee judges. For 15 seconds, each girl has the opportunity to say why she would like to be on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court, and perhaps even becom the Rose Queen.
There is a small reward at the end. Docents lead group tours of Tournament House (the former Wrigley Mansion) throughout the day, and each girl gets a poster, a photo with a red long-stemmed rose, and two tickets to the Royal Ball a week or so later. And a few get to talk to The Rose Examiner! We talked to five young ladies and one gentleman at the tryouts on Sept. 8, and as usual, it was very interesting. They all attend high schools in Pasadena.
Lela is a senior at John Muir High School. Her ambition is to raise her GPA from 4.0 to 4.5, and be the valedictorian for her class. She is a member of the National Honor Society (NHS), vice president of the ASB, and treasurer of the BSU. She runs track and plays volleyball, but we talked about her service as a Student Ambassador for the Tournament.
“It’s pretty fun,” Lela said. She commented that it was “surprising” to learn how nice and outgoing the people at the Tournament are. “They like to make jokes,” she added. She said that white suiters are sweet and are not as intimidating as one might think. (The term “white suiter” refers to members of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association, because they wear white suits to events.) it feels like “a warm and welcoming environment,” she said.
She said the process was “less nerve-wracking than I envisioned.” She would like to inspire black and brown girls to try out for the Royal Court, and “not to shy away from open doors.”
Jocelyn, who attends Marshal Fundamental School, told The Rose Examiner that she was nervous, because she hadn’t dressed the way most of the other girls had, but “I’m glad I did it, because it was a pretty good experience.” She would tell people who might be unsure about trying out, “It’s not as scary as you think.” All the girls and the staff were fun, she said.
For her statement to the judges, Jocelyn told us she said “The reason I’m here is because I’ve never seen another girl like me on the court.” (We didn’t get a photo, but we can vouch that Jocelyn has the demeanor and poise to be a princess.) She affirmed, “I think it would be cool for other girls like me to see themselves in a respected institution.”
Jocelyn is a member of NHS and has served in the cabinet at Marshall since her sophomore year. She’s on the tennis team and GSA, and takes “lots of AP classes.”
Back at “The Melody of Life” setpiece, we found a group of three. Sylvie and Richard attend Blair High School, and Haley attends Maranatha. Richard participated in the tryouts to get tickets to the ball—and yes, even though boys are not chosen for the Royal Court, they do get the same perks as the girls who try out. Still, he enjoyed the process and said it was “good practice for the future” to have to craft a quick statement. He plays flute in the jazz band and is vice president of the ASB.
Asked why she tried out, Sylvie said, “The tickets don’t hurt!” She said she agrees that it’s good practice. Being on the court would be a good opportunity to inspire people, especially children.
“I know the queen and court do a lot of outreach,” she said. I want to be a princess, she said, but for the community service, not the title. Sylvie plays clarinet in the jazz band, is on the tennis team, and serves the site counsel representative for the ASB.
Haley told us her family has watched the Rose Parade for 50 years, so “I’ve seen it every year of my life.” She looks up to the court and has seen the impact the Royal Courts have had on the community. “They do a lot of good things for Pasadena,” she said. Haley is on the volleyball team at Maranatha.
Gabriela attends John Marshall Fundamental School, and is a real Rose Parade aficionado. She has lived her entire life in Pasadena, and watches the parade with her dad every year. She has worked on floats, and has come to the parade for the past three years.
Being on the court would be “a good opportunity to meet new people,” Gabriels said, and “a great experience as well.” She added that it’s also a tradition at her school for girls to try out. She is in the Puente program and just joined Unidos, a club that focuses on community service.
Keep following The Rose Examiner and subscribe in the box at the left, to find out who will serve on the Royal Court for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade!