Actor Nic Novicki led a cheer—actually, several of them—to celebrate Easterseals 100th anniversary and the Rose Parade float at Fiesta Parade Floats.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Easterseals has aided people with disabilities for a full century and is the largest disabilities service provider in the United States. To celebrate and honor this anniversary, the organzation is sending its first-ever entry, a giant flowered birthday cake down the Rose Parade route in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, 2019,. Last Saturday, Easterseals Southern California (ESSC) threw a party at Fiesta Parade Floats and invited Tournament of Roses Royalty to attend. Photos are below.
Nancy Weintraub, chief development officer for ESSC, said, “If there was ever a time to do one, this is now.” The 100th is a big party, and “it deserves a parade.”
Board member Mary Platt told us “For years [we talked about] how to get our name out among a broader group of people.” The float was a dream of hers and others. “All of a sudden, this became a reality.”
The “all of a sudden” took 18 months to two years to get through the process of committee work, coordinating with the headquarters in Chicago, and going through design and building. The festive float, “Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services,” was designed by Charles Meier with a 20-foot high cake, party horns, and presents.
Easterseals serves 1.5 million people with disabilities across the country every year. ESSC is the largest autism service in California, with 8,500 families. One of the goals of Easterseals is to build a more inclusive future for the 61 million Americans with diverse disabilities. There are services for adults, children, veterans, seniors, and caregivers. Services include day services, therapy, peer-to-peer groups which help with social interaction, camp, and assistance in finding housing and employment.
There were a couple celebrities making the rounds at the party: actress Jamie Brewer, who has been a recurring actress in 20 episodes of American Horror Story, and Nic Novicki, who has 45 acting credits on IMDB and a couple dozen credits in writing, producing, and directing. He had a recurring role on Boardwalk Empire, and as Tyrion Lannister in the spoof School of Thrones. Both were irrepresible in their excitement over the Easterseals float and the work the nonprofit does.
Novicki is an ESSC board member and Founder/Director Easterseals Disability Film Challenge. The short videos have people with disabilities on or behind the camera, and can be serious or funny. Some can be viewed at the link above, along with information on how to enter the sixth challenge in 2019.
Brewer has worked in theater since she went to a summer program in 8th grade, for which she got college credit. She learned stagecraft, acting, and valuable skills for her career. In addition to American Horror Story, a new movie, Turnover, is in post production.
“An older man takes a new direction in life,” she explained. “He hires individuals who have different backgrounds, different abilities. Two special communities are represented: the Down Syndrome community and the deaf community.”
We asked if she sees herself as a role model and groundbreaker. She replied enthusiastically, “I am! I do break barriers! I’m the first woman with Down Syndrome to walk in a New York Fashion Week.”
When it was time to cut the real cake sitting in front of the float, President & CEO Mark Whitley underscored the “effort of inclusion” Easterseals promotes. “What better way to celebrate 100 years, than a float in the Rose Parade.”
Mary Platt stood with her son Michael, who is autistic, as she spoke. “The question is always, ‘What do you do?’” She said that the float will show some 80 million viewers all over the world what Easterseals does.
One of the most affecting speakers was Howard McBroom, Advocate for Easterseals. He worked himself into a job after some time of speaking with legislators and politicians as a volunteer. He was so effective in Sacramento, that Easterseals gave him a full-time job.
“Only one in five people with disabilities have affordable housing. The other four do not,” he stated. He says this is a “national disgrace.” When he meets with legislators who express sympathy, he tells them, “Compassion does not pay the bills.”
The young women on the Royal Court also spoke. Princess Helen Rossi, who has juvenile arthritis, said, “This event is special to me, because (for my Girl Scout Gold Award), I wrote a storybook for kids with disabilities.”
Queen Louise directly addressed the need for diversity. “I learned about Easterseals’ effort to destigmatize disability….Years ago, the Court was all white women,” she said, adding that the Tournament of Roses will continue to diversify.
“Celebrating Easterseals: 100 Years of Disability Services” will have 12 riders, spinning pinwheels, 3,000 hot pink roses, a coconut flake-covered cake, and lots and lots of marigolds. The flower is associated with Easterseals, and will be represented with fresh petals and stylized sculptures. McBroom will ride the float, with Easterseals Program Director Bryan Nguyen, who is a peer-to-peer counselor.
Kim Cohn, Vice President Marketing Communications for ESSC, explained how the riders were chosen. Each one of the 71 Easterseals affiliates were given the opportunity to nominate a rider, and 20 or 30 did.
“The committee looked for great, inspiring Easterseals stories, and those were chosen to ride the float,” she said.
Nine of the riders are Easterseals clients and three are accompanying riders. They are Kaison Shipp-Collier, 12, Easterseals Nevada (autism); Sophia Stafford, 17, Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania (Williams Syndrome), accompanied by sister Sabrina Stafford, Easterseals music therapist; Reagan Crabtree, 20, Easterseals Iowa (apraxia, autism); Blake Scribner, 21, Easterseals Central Illinois (brachial plexis injury), accompanied by Katie Pena, therapist; Matthew Jameson, 21, Easterseals Massachusetts (spastic diplegic cerebral palsy); Lora Glassman, 32, Easterseals Southern California (brain condition); Ernesto Gutierrez, 43, Easterseals Southern California (injury from an IED attack); Howard McBroom, 60, Easterseals Southern California (autism), accompanied by Brian Nguyen, Easterseals Program Director; danny Blake, 68, Easterseals Blake Foundation (cerebral palsy)
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All photos copyright Laura Berthold Monteros. Contact administrator for permissions.
Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel cuts the ribbon as Princesses Micaela Sue McElrath, Sherry Xiaorui Ma (behind Louise), Rucha S. Kadam, Helen Susan Rossi, Ashley Symone Hackett, and Lauren Michele Baydaline look on.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
It’s always fun to watch a gaggle of teenage girls try to figure out the buttons on a phone when the Rose Parade Royal Court sits down to answer calls from folks trying to get information on the Tournament of Roses. Phones can be confusing, but these young ladies are quick learners.
Last Monday, 101st Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel and the six Rose Princesses opened up the Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) annual hotline. The event took place early this time around, so there will be plenty of time for inquiries about the Rose Parade, Rose Bowl Game, and related events. The big moment, of course, was when Queen Louise cut the red ribbon with oversized shears to officially open the phones.
Be sure to check out the photos in the gallery below. More articles about the Royal Court are here.
The event opened with brief remarks by Michael Ross, CEO of CVB; Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek; and Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny. Christine Susa, CVB Director of Marketing & Communications and Crystal Williams, Communications Manager made sure all ran smoothly.
We managed to speak with a few of the girls in between calls.
Princesses Rucha and Helen said “it’s so much fun” to be on the Court and meet lots of people. They said the Court has really bonded, “like sisters.”
Helen has been living with juvenile arthritis since she was a teenager. Seeing very young children as she was being treated at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles inspired her to write and illustrate a picture book to help them deal with the disease. She called it Joe’s Toes, and it was her Girl Scout Gold Award project.
“I know how hard it is…not to do things” other kids can do, she said.
We asked her how she keeps up with the rigorous schedule of a Rose Princess. “I have a really great team at Children’s Hospital. Every day I wake up so grateful and blessed to have this experience!” It’s all about having people around who understand when she is hurting, she added.
We wanted to catch up with Princess Ashley, who attends the alma mater of The Rose Examiner’s children. She confirmed that she has submitted her applications to four universities with excellent Human Biology departments—UCLA, USC, Ohio State, and University of Washington. Coincidentally, UW is sending a team to the 2019 Rose Bowl Game. Her minor will be African-American Studies.
Asked about her life at John Muir High School, she responded, “I’m barely at Muir!” With 100 events between October and January, none of the girls spends much time on campus.
“The support is awesome,” Ashley reports. “I’m staying on top of my studies as much as possible.”
She was able to participate with the Muir Pep Squad in the Turkey Tussle for the first time. (The Turkey Tussle is the annual homecoming game for both John Muir and crosstown rival Pasadena High School, and is played in the Rose Bowl.) In addition to cheering, Ashley has been doing praise dancing since she was 10 years old, which helped her break out of her shell.
“I’m extremely blessed with this opportunity,” she said, and expressed gratefulness to God and her high school administration.
Queen Louise told us she has also submitted most of her college applications. She’s applied early acceptance to University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins, Yale, and Tufts. She affirmed that her research projects are not suffering from the Royal Court schedule.
Speaking of schedules, here are the days and hours the Visitor Hotline is open.
Visitor Hotline (877) 793-9911 Hours of Operation (PST)
Monday, December 3rd – Friday, December 7th 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 10th – Friday, December 14th 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 17th – Friday, December 21st 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 24th – Friday, December 28th 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, December 31st 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Hours are subject to change on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (closed) and New Year’s Eve
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The 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court (L-R): Helen Rossi, Rucha Kadam, Lauren Baydaline, Trina & Gerald Freeny, their daughter Erica, Queen Louise Siskel, Micaela McElrath, Sherry Ma, Ashley Hackett
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel made a lot of firsts at the Coronation of the Rose Queen and Presentation of the Royal Court last Tuesday evening. She is in the first graduating class at Sequoyah High School, she is the first Sequoyah girl to be selected for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court, she is the first to become queen, and she is the 101st Rose Queen, taking the title into its second century. She will perch atop the Royal Court float in the 130th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2019.
The festivities were held at the historic Pasadena Playhouse for the third consecutive year. Like the Tournament of Roses, the venue is an icon of Pasadena. Its spacious patio and Spanish Colonial Style serve the event well. Come along for the fun by paging through the photo gallery below!
Local news anchor Chris Schauble of KTLA-5, Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brother of Tournament of Roses Pres, Gerald Freeny, hosted. Schauble is known for his humorous antics as well as serious reporting on set. With two sets of twin girls, he was right at home interviewing the young ladies on the Royal Court. He came out in an LA Dodgers Number 5 jersey, probably for KTLA. (It didn’t help, the Dodgers lost to the Red Sox.) After a brief intro, he said he was going to do a Mister Rogers change, and he traded his jersey for a suit jacket.
Each Rose Princess, dressed in a lacy gown by Tadashi Shoji, was announced by her father, who read a short bio, and escorted to the center of the stage by a member of Blair High School JROTC. A montage of photos played on the screen above the stage and Schauble interviewed each princess. He then handed the microphone to Pres. Freeny for the revelation of the one girl of the seven who would serve as the 101st Rose Queen. He opened the envelope and announced, “From Sequoyah High School, Louise Deser Siskel!”
Be sure to check out the album below for photos of the festivities.
The girls left the stage to receive their tiaras, and Queen Louise to change into the white gown that was specially fitted for her. Meanwhile, there was a video of the Royal Court in the usual Royal Court activities—visiting people, going to events, and getting to know each other at a weekend retreat. Solvang, a Danish town in Central California, was the destination instead of the usual Newport Beach. “Ambiance” from Fullspectrumusic supplied entertainment.
Proud dads escorted their princesses back onto the stage. Queen Louise, escorted by her father Charlie Siskel, met Pres. Freeny for her coronation. He placed the Mikimoto pearl crown on her head, albeit a bit askew, and administered the Queen’s Oath, and it was all official.
Queen Louise, we suspect, may also be the first Rose Queen to be involved in two important research projects. As a junior in high school, she investigated the effect of microgravity on drug metabolism by the liver in a space biology study at NASA Ames in Mountain View, Calif. She said the summer program was a “crazy experience,” an opportunity for her and her partner Rujuta Sathe to do research funded by NASA.
Now a senior at Sequoyah, Queen Louise is researching breast cancer under Dr. Shehla Pervin at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. The project examines the health disparity between African-American and Caucasian women. She is currently writing a paper on that research. We asked her if she would be able to keep up with her writing, given the 100-plus events she will attend over the next dozen weeks.
“Yes!” she replied. The public Rose Court appearances will mostly be over before she goes back to work in January.
“I want to thank the [Queen & Court] committee for selecting me,” she added, “and also the six other girls.”
Larry Wilson over at the Pasadena Star-News came up with one more first–glasses!
All photos copyright Laura Berthold Monteros. Contact administrator for permissions.
The announcement of the Rose Queen, who is selected from the seven young women on the Royal Court, is one of the most exciting events in the lead up to the Rose Parade on Jan. 1. The coronation of the 101st Rose Queen takes place on Oct. 23, 2018, and readers can be there to see it real time. E-Tickets are now on sale at Sharp Seating at $40 for the general public and $15 for students.
The celebration starts with a reception on the patio of the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino, at 5:30 p.m. The program begins at 7 p.m. A video of exciting moments in the life of the three-week-old Royal Court is played, and each young lady is interviewed. The presentation of the Rose Princesses in their formal gowns follows, and Pres. Gerald Freeny opens the envelope containing the name of the Rose Queen.
For all the news on the Royal Court and lots of photos, be sure to check out the Royal Court page on The Rose Examiner website.
2019 Rose Parade Royal Court: L-R, Helen Rossi, Flintridge Prep; Rucha Kadam, La Cañada Flintridge HS; Lauren Baydaline, Westridge; Micaela McElrath, Westridge; Gerald Freeny, president Tournament of Roses; Sherry Ma, San Marino HS; Louise Siskel, Sequoyah HS; Ashley Hackett, John Muir HS.
There were a few unusual occurrences at the announcement of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court on Oct. 1. More about those in a minute, as well as bios on each Rose Princess. To folks in the Pasadena area, the annual announcement of the Royal Court is more exciting than the announcement of the Rose Queen on Oct. 23. Once the court is revealed, the Queen will be one of those elite seven girls, but almost everyone in the area is only one or two degrees removed from one or more of the finalists. It’s an edge-of-your-seat moment.
The selection of the Court begins with some 900 young women from a couple dozen area schools, who try out on a hot weekend in early September. Through a series of interviews, the number is whittled down to around 35 finalists, from which seven are chosen to attend some 100 events as ambassadors for the Tournament, and to ride in the 130th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2019.
Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the end of this article!
Surprise #1: This year, there were 44 finalists. Queen & Court Committee chair Craig Washington noted that the first Rose Queen, Hallie Woods, was crowned in 1905, which was also the year a certain theory was revealed. He said selecting finalists is “almost as difficult as understanding Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.” It was such formidable task this fall, he said, that the committee ended up with 44 “exceptional finalists.”
Surprise #2: Not a huge one, but the last time The Rose Examiner recalls Washington on stage was when his daughter Drew was chosen as the 2012 Rose Queen. He knows both sides of the equation.
Surprise #3: The male members on Q&C escort each of the finalists from Tournament House to the steps at the south entrance, as they are introduced by the chair. This time around, the female members of Q&C also escorted the girls. It took a while, but TOR is getting there.
Surprise #4: How long it took the TOR to get here: Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny is the first African-American to assume the presidency.
Surprise #5: The finalists lined up in numerical order, rather than being placed according to height as previously. This made it difficult to get a good group photo.
Surprise #6: There were eight finalists from Mayfield Senior School, the most from one school since The Rose Examiner has been covering the Tournament of Roses. We were pretty sure at least one would make the Court, but Mayfield is not represented on the Court.
Surprise #7: The seven girls on the Court represent six different schools, one of which has never had a Rose Princess before and one which has not been represented for longer than we have been writing about the Rose Parade.
Meet the 2019 Rose Princesses
Freeny gave a short talk about the theme he and his wife Trina chose, “The Melody of Life.” Then one by one, Freeny called out the school and the name of the young woman, until all seven were lined up. In addition to a summary of her involvement in the community, each provided her own take on the theme of the 2019 festivities.
Ashley Symone Hackett, a senior at John Muir High School, was the first to be called, and is the first Muir girl on the Royal Court since 2003. She told us, “I am extremely blessed to get this opportunity.” She said that John Muir is an “amazing” school, and she wants to make the administration and her friends proud. She wants to “set a good example for incoming freshmen” in their dreams and aspirations.
Ashley is a member of the Black Student Union, Pasadena Panthers Youth Cheer and Dance, John Muir Pep Squad, and is secretary of the Associated Student Body, a dance trainer with Los Angeles Country Tiny Tots, activities leader with the VA of Greater Los Angeles, and youth leader at Metropolitan Baptist Church. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, cooking with her dad, watching football and basketball, hiking, and swimming. She plans to study human biology and would like to attend University of California, Los Angeles, University of Southern California, or University of Washington. Ashley lives in Pasadena and is the daughter of Alvin and Ramona Hackett; she has two siblings, Jordan and Kennedy.
“For me, ‘The Melody of Life’ means that everyone has highs and lows in life, but just like in music both high notes and low notes add value to the piece, just as it would in life,” she said. “Low times in life are often dreaded but to me these times help add value and character to an individual. Without the low times that I have experienced, I would not be able to appreciate the high moments of life that I have been blessed with.”
Louise Deser Siskel is a senior at Sequoyah High School and lives in San Marino. She represents two firsts for Sequoyah: She is the first young woman from the school to serve on the Royal Court, and is also a member of the first graduating class of Sequoyah High School. (The lower school started in 1958.) She told us that Sequoyah is a “wonderful” school, and that she loves the school and its community.
Louise is a member of the Debate Team and Judicial Committee at Sequoyah High School, and YMCA Youth and Government. She is researching breast cancer under Dr. Shehla Pervin at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
Louise enjoys reading, playing board games with her family, traveling, and laughing with friends. She plans to study cellular and molecular biology and would like to attend Johns Hopkins University, The University of Chicago, or Yale University. Louise is the daughter of Charlie Siskel and Abigail Deser; she has one brother, Simon.
“For me, ‘The Melody of Life’ is standing at the lab bench at 7 a.m., singing along to show tunes,” she said. “It is classical music when I’m writing and 2000s hits when I’m nervous. I belt out Cole Porter verses with my grandfather and ABBA anthems with my friends. Music has an astounding capacity to bring people together and has always been an integral part of my favorite traditions and most treasured memories. Music makes the world a more forgiving and more joyful place.”
Sherry Xiaorui Ma is a senior at San Marino High School and lives in Temple City. She is editor-in-chief of the San Marino High School Titanian yearbook, president and founder of the Make-A-Wish Club, and a varsity basketball manager. Sherry enjoys playing the flute and piano, reading, dancing, and spending time with friends. She plans to study communication and media studies and would like to attend Emerson College, Fordham University, New York University, or University of Southern California. Sherry is the daughter of Alex Luk and Kristy Ma; she has one sister, Sally Yang.
“Music is a language that is spoken through emotions. Not everyone can understand words, but everyone understands the power of love and kindness,” she said. “We are all connected, just like the music notes that are intermittently connected. Music gives you the power to reach people you know, and even the people you don’t know. The ‘Melody of Life’ is about the musical conversation all around us that expresses what cannot be said. This melody can help humans forget their differences and come together to transform negativity into hope, freedom, and color. This year’s theme has a very deep emotional connection to me because of how passionate I am about artistic expression.”
Micaela Sue McElrath is a senior at Westridge School and lives in Pasadena. She is an afterschool volunteer tutor with Stars, vice president of the 12th grade class at Westridge School, 3rd year Peer to Peer Counselor, and a teacher assistant in a 4th grade classroom. Micaela enjoys being involved in community service, all things fashion, hair, and makeup, and is avid watcher of football and baseball. She plans to study psychology, education, and English and would like to attend Bard College, Connecticut College, Fordham University, Trinity College, or University of Southern California. Micaela is the daughter of Matthew McElrath and Inez Enguidanos-McElrath; she has four siblings, Stuart, Belen, Mariah, and Evan.
“Throughout the years, I have listened to many different types of music styles and genres; ranging from country music to radio hits,” she said. “The diversity in my music choices reflect the diversity in my life. My dad introduced me to classic rock while my mom raised me on Mexican love songs. The constant throughout all of this has been my love for Selena Quintanilla. I grew up listening to her music with my family. Selena has served as a role model to me of a strong woman with an influential voice, using her gifts to help others.”
Lauren Michele Baydaline is a senior at Westridge School and lives in South Pasadena. She is secretary of the Associated Student Body, founder and head of Every Body Affinity, head of book club, 3rd year Peer to Peer, volunteer in Reading Rocks program at Hillsides, and a camp counselor at YMCA Glendale. Lauren enjoys reading, writing poetry, and spending time with friends and family. She plans to study biology, linguistics, and Latin and would like to attend Boston College, Duke University, Emory University, Tulane University, University of Richmond, or Villanova University. Lauren is the daughter of Nick and Selena Baydaline; she has one brother, Christian.
“Personally, melody of life means the pace at which life flows. Life is an unpredictable symphony,” s
he said. “Every moment, experience, and memory all flow together to create a melody. There are good parts and bad parts, where the beats may speed up and intensify, but each part of the piece is what makes it unique. Life is a melody, and we are all the composers to our own pieces.”
Rucha S. Kadam is a senior at La Cañada High School and lives in La Cañada Flintridge. She is a member of the LCHS varsity soccer team, Assistance League of Flintridge, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Space Academy, 2018 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court, Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) board, Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), California Scholarship Federation (CSF), treasurer of LCHS Associated Student Body (ASB), Hackademia director, and LCUSD Technology and Computer Science intern. She plans to study computer science or medical science and would like to attend Amherst College, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, Swarthmore College, or Wellesley College. Rucha enjoys baking, reading, listening to music, playing board games, and the piano. Rucha is the daughter of Shailesh Kadam and Vaishali Bhosale; she has one brother, Ahan.
“Music is universal—it transcends the barriers of language, religion, race, culture, or ideological beliefs and culture,” she said. “Music can bring together people by connecting them through the feelings that all humans share with each other. Music has the ability to evoke our most raw and powerful emotions. Music can draw out experiences and memories that unify us, despite our differences. Music can have an immense impact on our lives.”
Helen Susan Rossi is a senior at Flintridge Preparatory School and lives in La Cañada Flintridge. She is a member or the Cooking Club, Diversity Club, Flint Leadership Club, and a Flintridge Prep Senior Leader. Helen’s community activities include National Charity League of Glendale, Senior Girl Scout, Troop 7331, Hathaway Sycamores tutor, Arthritis Foundation intern and Arthritis Foundation 2018 Youth Honoree. Helen enjoys cooking, photography, creative writing, and drawing. She plans to study business and psychology and would like to attend New York University, University of California, Los Angeles, or University of Southern California. Helen is the daughter of Philip and Susan Rossi.
“The theme ‘The Melody of Life’ reminds me of my days as a summer counselor when I taught young campers to play the recorder,” she said. “Some caught on quickly, and others had to work harder to master the notes, but we all helped each other out. We laughed uproariously at the terrible sounds that first emerged, but eventually they all played a respectable version of ‘Yankee Doodle.’ That truly represents ‘The Melody of Life’ because with perseverance and support we created a melody together.”
John Muir High School Pep Squad hopped on a bus to Tournament House to support the three Muir girls who were among the finalists. Most schools that have finalists send a delegation to the Royal Court announcement, but in this case, it was a very special day. Fellow member Ashley Hackett was chosen for the Court. It’s no surprise that a girl from Muir has what it takes to serve on the Court, but it is a surprise that the last Muir Princess, Heather Bell, was chosen in for the 2003 Royal Court
“It feels pretty good,” Ashley said when asked about that. The Muir applicants were coached by Jeané Ward of Alpha Kappa Alpha. JMHS has been a high school under various names since 1926, the second oldest in the Pasadena Unified School District. Kennedy Hackett, Princess Ashley’s sister and fellow pep squad member, is second from left in the photo. Asked if she would keep her sister humble, Kennedy said, “I’ll let her have (her pride) for the day.”
2019 Rose Parade Royal Court: L-R, Helen Rossi, Flintridge Prep; Rucha Kadam, La Cañada Flintridge HS; Lauren Baydaline, Westridge; Micaela McElrath, Westridge; Craig Washington, chair Queen & Court; Gerald Freeny, president Tournament of Roses; Sherry Ma, San Marino HS; Louise Siskel, Sequoyah HS; Ashley Hackett, John Muir HS. Photo copyright LB Monteros.
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Tournament of Roses President Gerald Freeny announced the seven young women who will serve of the 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court this morning. It was a proud moment for Freeny and for Craig Washington, chair of the Queen & Court Committee, whose daughter Drew was the 2012 Rose Queen. From the seven Rose Princesses, a Rose Queen will be chosen and announced on Oct. 23, 2018.
Upcoming: The Rose Examiner took a lot of photos and will post a gallery with information about each princess.
Photo courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association
by Laura Berthold Monteros
Whether this is unprecedented, we can’t say, but the class of finalists for the Rose Parade Royal Court is the largest we have seen in almost 10 years of covering the event. With 44 young women from 18 different schools, choosing just seven to serve on the 2019 court might be a more difficult task for the judges than choosing from the usual plus-or-minus 35. Seven girls will be announced as the Royal Court on Monday, Oct. 1. From these, the Rose Queen wil be chosen and announced on October 23. The 130th Rose Parade is on Jan. 1, 2019.
The group is diverse, though not as diverse as the general population in the Pasadena City College attendance boundaries from which the Royal Court is chosen. Pastel and flowered dresses seemed to be the favored choices, along with the almost obligatory long hair. We’ve charted the numbers and divided according to public and private schools, because that’s the way Pasadenans tote them up. With eight finalists, Mayfield Senior School could put together its own court with a lady-in-waiting.
Public Schools (8)
Arcadia High School
La Cañada High School
La Cañada Flintridge
Marshall Fundamental High School
Muir High School
Pasadena High School
San Marino High School
Temple City High School
Pasadena City College
Private Schools (10)
Alverno Heights Academy
Flintridge Preparatory School
La Cañada Flintridge
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
La Cañada Flintridge
La Salle High School
Manoukian High School
Maranatha High School
Mayfield Senior School
Polytechnic High School
Sequoyah High School
First row, from left: (#073) Faith van Haaster, Arcadia High School; (#119) Katia Khanlian, AGBU Vatche and Tamar Manoukian High School; (#156) Briana Anderson, John Muir High School; (#344) Pourobee Saha, Arcadia High School; (#059) Helen Rossi, Flintridge Preparatory School; (#020) Linzi Qi, Arcadia High School; (#014) Julia Bridges, La Cañada High School; (#371) Brook Acosta, Mayfield Senior School; (#254) Cecilia Trejo, Pasadena High School; (#362) Elysee Vielma, Mayfield Senior School.
Second row, from left: (#203) Ashley Hackett, John Muir High School; (#110) Cynthia Hill, John Muir High School; (#262) Isabella Vinci, Mayfield Senior School; (#144) KC Young, John Marshall Fundamental High School; (#307) Katherine Choi, San Marino High School; (#264) Sasha Torres, Mayfield Senior School; (#107) Alyssa Cole, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#016) Natalia Talleda, La Cañada High School; (#507) Ashley Slocum, Mayfield Senior School.
Third row, from left: Row 3: (#469) McKenzie Minto, Polytechnic School; (#293) Divine Johnson, Pasadena High School; (#291) Gabriela Tavera, Maranatha High School; (#568) Helena Simpson, Arcadia High School; (#512) Audrey Sirois, La Salle High School; (#023) Sophie Woodman, La Salle High School; (#035) Samantha Grijalva, La Salle High School; (#399) Sydné Piatek, Pasadena City College; (#398) Emily Truong, La Cañada High School; (#194) Lily Brogdon-Mitchell, Mayfield Senior School.
Fourth row, from left: Row 4 From Left: (#284) Caroline Ivankovich, Mayfield Senior School; (#278) Hope Ferguson, Temple City High School; (#080) Margaret Chang, Arcadia High School; (#174) Sherry Ma, San Marino High School; (#078) Rucha Kadam, La Cañada High School; (#352) Sophie Blaisdell, Polytechnic School; (#392) Lauren Baydaline, Westridge School; (#081) Gwendalynn Stilson, La Cañada High School; (#019) Klarissa Barriga, Alverno Heights Academy.
Top row, from left: Row 5 From Left: (#147) Anaise Nugent, La Salle High School; (#442) Caroline Finnegan, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; (#274) Lauren Shain, Mayfield Senior School; (#326) Micaela McElrath, Westridge School; (#185) Steviana Perry, San Marino High School; (#393) Louise Siskel, Sequoyah High School.
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 Examinerand subscribe in the box at the left, to find out who will serve on the Royal Court for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade!
Each year, the Tournament of Roses takes seven regular, yet extraordinary, young women and turns them into a Royal Court with six princesses and one Rose Queen. Applications opened today for the 130th Rose Parade, to be held on Jan. 1, 2019. The women will represent the Tournament and City of Pasadena in the parade and at the 105th Rose Bowl Game, and perform duties from the time of selection through the selection of the next court in 2019. More information is available on the Royal Court webpage and the online application here.
The first round of tryouts is held over two days, Saturday, Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 10 from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.at Tournament House, 391 S. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena. Schools are assigned specific time slots, but if an applicant cannot be there at that time, she may come during any of the tryout hours. In the first round, each applicant has 15 seconds in front of the Queen & Court Committee to state her badge number and why she wants to be on the Royal Court. The 11-member selection committee will not ask any questions nor ask the applicant to begin speaking.
Advice from previous Court members is to be confident, be genuine, and be yourself. The Tournament suggests wearing something that feels comfortable, reflects the girl’s personality, and will make a good first impression. This columnist has noticed that almost all the girls wear dresses, and many wear the same dress for the entire round of interviews. Participants are selected based upon a combination of qualities, including public speaking ability, poise, academic achievement, and community and school involvement.
To participate, an applicant must
Be a female, at least 17 years of age by December 31, 2018, and not more than 21 years of age before January 5, 2019
Possess at least a 2.0 grade point average in both the current and previous years’ course work and able to provide verification of same
Be available to participate in person in all scheduled interview sessions
Register and complete the official Royal Court online application
At the tryouts, former Royal Court members brief applicants on what to expect and are available to answer questions. Tours of the historic Wrigley Mansion are offered and all the applicants are gifted with a rose, photo, official Rose Parade poster, and a ticket for two to the Royal Ball, a semi-formal dance hosted by the Tournament of Roses at the Pasadena Convention Center on Sept. 14.
Most of the 100 or so appearances occur from mid-October to the first week in January. For the many hours they serve, the young women on the Royal Court receive both tangible and intangible benefits. They serve in a world-renowned volunteer community, develop public speaking and etiquette skills, and receive a small educational scholarship, full wardrobe for appearances, and professional hairstyling, make-up application and instruction. Former Royal Court members also say they make lifelong friends.
The Royal Court is chosen from a field of around 900 applicants. Approximately 250 participants will be invited back for a second round of interviews; from that group, about 75 young women will be asked to participate in the third round of interviews. In late September, approximately 25 to 35 candidates will be announced as finalists. The seven-member Royal Court will be announced on Oct. 1 at Tournament House. The announcement and coronation of the Rose Queen is scheduled for the evening of Oct. 23.
The Tournament of Roses Parade steers clear of being a parade of personalities, but there are five VIP entries every year: Tournament president, Grand Marshal, Pasadena mayor, Rose Bowl Hall of Fame inductees, and of course, the Rose Queen and Royal Court. The gallery below includes the Pasadena City College Tournament of Roses Honor Band and Herald Trumpets, because when it comes to Pasadena celebrities, they are right up there.
Today, center stage are Pres. Lance Tibbet, Rose Queen Isabella Marez and the Rose Princesses introduced by the Herald Trumpets, Mayor Terry Tornek, and the Tournament of Roses Honor Band. The information on each is in the captions with the photos. We’ve already written about Grand Marshal Gary Sinise in “Honoring vets in the 2018 Rose Parade” and will cover the sports aspect of the parade and more about the cars and flowering in upcoming pieces.
A bit about the band: It’s comprised of the PCC Lancer Band, plus 200 of the more than 500 high school music students who auditioned. Jack Taylor is the band director, Tad Carpenter is the percussion director, and Dr. James Arnwine, dean of the Performing Arts at PPC, served as the assistant band director.
All photos are copyrighted by LB Monteros. Contact for permissions.