2017 Princesses Natalie Rose Petrosian, Lauren “Emi” Emiko Powers, and Maya Kawaguchi Khan performed one of the final Royal Court duties of orienting the hundreds of girls who were trying out for 2018.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
For many teenage girls living in the Pasadena area, trying out for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court is a family or school tradition. They come with their friends and each has a story about why she wants to represent the Tournament and the community in the 129th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2018 and throughout the year. Seven young women will be chosen to promote the 2018 theme “Making a Difference” by serving for a year on the 2018 Royal Court. One of those seven will become the 100th Rose Queen, an event so monumental that Pasadena Museum of History has an exhibit dedicated to the Royal Court.
We spoke with some of the teens who came on a beautiful Saturday morning with a cool high for the day of 90 degrees—much nicer than the 100+ temperatures of past tryouts. We caught them before their turn in front of the panel of judges to say, in a few seconds, why they wanted to be on the Court. They had a bit more time with The Rose Examiner! Here, with their photos, are their comments. Be sure to check out the gallery, too, which has lots of photos of the event. All the articles on the Royal Court are linked on this dedicated page as they are posted.
Olivia and Reagan attend La Cañada Flintridge High School. Olivia is a recipient of the Gold Award, the highest honor in Girl Scouts. She “loves volunteering,” and said serving on the Royal Court “would be the perfect icing on the cake.” She added that it would be a great experience to have. Reagan said she was very excited about the tryouts. “I’m a little nervous, actually,” she admitted. She thought about what she would say to the judges, “but I don’t want to sound too scripted.”
Savannah and Celine attend AGBU Vatche & Tamar Manoukian High School in Pasadena (hereafter referred to as AGBU) and Kasen, Jennifer, Delia, and Bridgitte attend Arcadia High School. All of the girls understood the effect they could in the community. Savannah wants to promote equality for all, and Kasen, Jennifer, and Bridgette would like to inspire other youth. “I want to set a good example for them to live out their dreams,” Jennifer said. Delia would like to be a role model by “projecting self-confidence to young girls.” Celine took a different tack: She lives in the moment, she said, and relishes the experience of trying out for the Royal Court.
Kristen and Danielle are students at Marshall Fundamental High School in Pasadena. They talked about how they might make a difference on the Royal Court. “I’m part of the National Charity League,” Kristen said, “so I contribute a lot of time. With this, I can help even more.” Danielle said she has made a difference in her work with teaching swim classes and water safety to children.
Lara, a student at AGBU, said, “I feel like being an Armenian on the Court would bring awareness to the Armenian community.” She noted that there is a large Armenian population in Pasadena, and we discussed that it goes back to the early years of the 20th century. She was proud that the American Armenian Rose Float Association would have a fourth float in the 2018 parade. Danielle attends Arcadia High School. “I really would enjoy this opportunity to inspire young girls,” she said, and to “really make a difference” in the community.
We always like to talk to at least one boy in the line. Ashley, James, and Samantha all attend La Salle High School in Pasadena. Sometimes the guys come just to get the pair of tickets to the Royal Ball that all applicants receive, but James assured us that he had more on his mind. Speaking with a polite tone, he said, “I’m here to make a difference. I’m here because this is a Tournament that seems to be sexist.” He isn’t the first young man to express that thought! Ashley (L.) said that the diversity and service she found speaks to her heart. Samantha wants to represent student athletes. “I want bring something new,” she said. “I want to represent those who excel in their sports.”
Simone, from Marshall, came with her mom Cathy. Born and raised in this city, Simone said. “I’m here today because I love Pasadena,” adding that she will “bring a positive energy to the Royal Court. I hope to get to the next round. I’m happy to be here!”
Mariajosé attends John Muir High School in Pasadena and Kimberley goes to Marshall. Mariajosé said, “I just want to try out. Everyone’s been talking about it in school.” She inspired The Rose Examiner with her candor when she added, “This is the first time doing something out of my comfort zone.” As we walk down the line, we can only speak with a few girls. Kimberley, with her rose-bedecked dress, stood out. “I wanted to show who I am,” she said. My culture shows who I am, and this dress shows my culture, because of the flowers.”
Filling out an application, standing in a long line in the sun, crowding onto the Tournament House porch for orientation, walking—usually nervously—up to a panel of 10 or 11 judges, and leaving Tournament House with a poster after a tour is a rite of passage for hundreds of girls who live within the boundaries of Pasadena City College. Some come to be with friends or for the experience, some come with grander ideas in mind. Some, like Lara and Kimberley, are proud of their culture and how it contributes to who they are as individuals. Some, like James, want to make a point. For some, like Mariajosé, it is a personal challenge. For writers like The Rose Examiner, it is inspirational.
All photos copyright 2017 Laura B. Monteros