Lots of firsts for 2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel

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.

Pearl crown by Mikimoto

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.”

UPDATE

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.

Photos: Chaka Khan and Gerald Freeny at Rose Parade Grand Marshal Announcement

Chaka Khan, 2019 Rose Parade Grand Marshal, was surprised by the colorful confetti raining down when she came through the purple curtains.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The announcement of the Grand Marshal for the 130th Tournament of Roses Parade had the usual elements. Oct. 17 was a beautiful, warm day, the front porch of Tournament House was gorgeously draped, the band was great, the press stand packed. There was the usual excitement in the audience, waiting to find out who would ride in the Grand Marshal’s car on Jan. 1, 2019. When Chaka Khan was announced, the crowd roared and the confetti cannon went off.

Known as the “Queen of Funk,” Chaka also sings R&B, pop, rock, gospel, and country. We asked what other music she likes; she responded, “I love Indian music.” She just finished a project in the Gujarati language with Indian performer Sonu Nigam, which celebrates the life of Gandhi.

Check out the gallery below for photos, and this link for a video on the TOR Rose Parade Facebook page.

But there was a lot that was unusual in the announcement.

There were fewer hints in the food served, music played, decorations (except for the purple drapes), yet from the murmurs in the crowd, it seemed like more people than normal had an idea of whom it would be. That may have been because more details were released ahead of time—10 Grammy awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a place in the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame. In his introduction, Pres. Gerald Freeny gave more details that confirmed those hunches, and affirmed that she was indeed a performer who would sing and dance in the opening act of the parade.

Chaka and her retinue were late, reportedly due to LA traffic. The Tournament, which makes sure the Rose Parade starts at 8 a.m. on the dot and the Rose Bowl Game coin toss is never late, announced that the star player would be 15 minutes behind the 9 a.m. start time. It was a quarter after when family members took their seats in the front row, and past 9:30 when Freeny stepped up to the lectern.

Now, a heads-up: Much of this article reflects the opinions of the writer, which is also unusual. If there is one constant in the feelings of folks who love the Rose Parade, it is that they very rarely and almost never publicly criticize the choice of a theme or Grand Marshal. People tend to be pretty polite when it comes to this grand old Pasadena tradition, and the criticism The Rose Examiner heard was couched in the politest terms.

There was disappointment about Chaka’s speech, which seemed thoroughly unprepared. She opened with “Well, I just don’t know where to go with this,” but added, “I’m so honored.” She thrice referred to “the Rose Bowl Parade,” which any GM would have been coached not to do. The theme, “The Melody of Life,” was garbled into “The Rhythm of Life.” References to the parade indicated that she had just not done her homework. (To her credit, she did name the Old Pasadena business district correctly.)

Other than noting that the floats are pretty, she seemed to have no interest in the Rose Parade. She said, “I remember looking at it. But not really looking…. Y’know, it was after the big game.” The game actually comes after the parade. It did seem she was a tad self-conscious—she said, “I hope you like me” and acknowledged that she was “a little bit scared.”

She said little about the Chaka Khan Foundation or what it does. This contrasted with previous Grand Marshals, such as Gary Sinise, whose tireless work for veterans is well known and very personal to him. Jane Goodall had not known about our American tradition when approached, but took the time to find out and agreed to be GM, because it is consistent with the values of her charitable work. Actor J.R. Martinez was not a star but has an amazing, compelling story and whose courage is indisputable.

There was also some speculation that Stevie Wonder, whom Freeny mentioned three times, was his first choice for Grand Marshal, not Chaka. Indicators were her lack of preparation and not having any idea what she would do for the opening show. Be that as it may, it is not unusual for a president to go with a second or third choice and it doesn’t reflect on how good a GM might be.

A friend of your Rose Examiner was refused by his first choice, who was not available on New Year’s Day, and his second choice backed out at the last minute. His third choice, Gregory Peck, proved to be one of the happiest GMs ever. When he was a child, his family drove up from San Diego to watch the parade every year. One year, they took a stray dog back with them. He was the first, and perhaps only, GM to get the Tournament time on The Tonight Show, due to his friendship with Johnny Carson.

Another late choice was Chesley Sullenberger III for 2010—late, because the TOR president had passed away before choosing a Grand Marshal. Yet what better choice could there have been that year for the theme “A Cut Above the Rest” than the “Hero of the Hudson.”

The Chaka Khan Foundation

Perhaps these comments come out of a suspicion about non-profits, due to years of working for both good ones and bad ones. It is difficult to tell from the foundation website whether the organization is actually out in the community working on programs, or simply partnering with other organizations that do the work. It is fine if a foundation does not actually create or run programs, but supports successful programs financially and with star power. That should be clear in the material, though, whether spoken, written, or posted online. It would have been good to hear more about it from the Tournament media release or Chaka herself.

Chaka established the Chaka Khan Foundation in 1999. The mission statement is “The Chaka Khan Foundation educates, inspires and empowers children in our community to achieve their full potential.” The foundation website says “The Chaka Khan Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization.”

However, it does not show up by EIN search on either Charity Navigator or GuideStar, and only on GuideStar by name, with the note “This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years. Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.” The “foundation team” has photos but no names attached, and does not state that is a board of directors as required by law. The only information on  the team page is a long promotional piece for the album “ClassiKhan.”

If Chaka did not do her homework on the Tournament of Roses, it appears that the Tournament of Roses did not do its homework on her foundation, either.

 

Photos: Meet the 2019 Rose Parade Royal Court

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.

BUY TICKETS TO THE CORONATION

by Laura Berthold Monteros

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.

Rose Princesses Sherry Xiaorui Ma, San Marino High School, Louise Deser Siskel, Sequoyah High School, and Ashley Symone Hackett, John Muir High School

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.”

Rose Princess Micaela Sue McElrath, Westridge School

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

Rose Princess Lauren Michele Baydaline, Westridge School

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.”

Rose Princesses Helen Susan Rossi, Flintridge Preparatory School and Rucha S. Kadam, La Cañada Flintridge High School

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.”

Members of the John Muir High School Pep Squad. Princess Ashley’s sister, Kennedy, is second from left.

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.”

 

 

Rose Parade Royal Court for 2019 Announced

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.

Tournament of Roses chooses 44 girls as Royal Court finalists for 2019 parade

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) City Total 21
Arcadia High School Arcadia 5
La Cañada High School La Cañada Flintridge 5
Marshall Fundamental High School Pasadena 1
Muir High School Pasadena 3
Pasadena High School Pasadena 2
San Marino High School San Marino 3
Temple City High School Temple City 1
Pasadena City College Pasadena 1
Private Schools (10) City Total 23
Alverno Heights Academy Sierra Madre 1
Flintridge Preparatory School La Cañada Flintridge 1
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy La Cañada Flintridge 2
La Salle High School Pasadena 4
Manoukian High School Pasadena 1
Maranatha High School Pasadena 1
Mayfield Senior School Pasadena 8
Polytechnic High School Pasadena 2
Sequoyah High School Pasadena 1
Westridge School Pasadena 2

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.

 

Photos of Royal Court hopefuls at the tryouts for 2019

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!

 

Be a princess—or a queen! Rose Parade Royal Court applications are open for 2019

The 2018 Royal Court: center, 100th Rose Queen Isabella Marez; clockwise from top right, Rose Princesses Georgia Cervenka, Savannah Bradley, Lauren Buehner, Alexandra Artura, Sydney Pickering, and Julianne Lauenstein

by Laura Berthold Monteros

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
  • Be a resident of the Pasadena Area Community College District and able to provide verification of residence
  • Be a senior in high school or enrolled as a full-time student (minimum 12 units) in any accredited school or college in the Pasadena Area Community College District
  • 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.

Celebrity lineup in the 2018 Rose Parade: Rose Queen, Pres. Tibbet, PCC Honor Band

by Laura Berthold Monteros

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.

Cake & Conversation with the Royal Court

The 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court at Allendale Branch Library: Princesses Lauren Buehner, Alexandra Artura, Queen Isabella Marez, Princesses Julianne Lauenstein, Sydney Pickering, Savannah Bradley.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Queen Isabella, 2018 Tournament of Roses Royal Court, listens to questions at Allendale Library.

What is it like to be on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court? Last Wednesday at Allendale Branch Library in Pasadena, people had the opportunity to find out more about how Rose Queen Isabella Marez and the Rose Princesses view their experiences since the Court was named in October, 2017. Cake and Conversation with the Royal Court has become an annual event at Allendale, and both girls and boys (and a sprinkling of men and women) were there to meet the seven young ladies who represent the TOR and City of Pasadena.

Librarian Veronica Fuentes Bernal acted as emcee, opening with a set of questions before turning it over to the audience. The responses of the young women manifested maturity, self-awareness, a deep interest in other people, and an understanding of their place in the community as ambassadors. This insight was reflected in the responses to a young girl in the front row, who asked what it is like to be on the Royal Court.

Princess Alexandra Artura replied, “It’s more of a job than you think it is, but it’s one I really enjoy.” She noted that the Royal Court represents the city, their schools, and their families.

“People don’t realize you’re not a princess yourself,” Princess Lauren Buehner said. “People want to see you for what you represent.”

Queen Isabella noted the sisterhood that the seven young women had formed, the changes they had made in the community, and making a difference in the world.

Later, Princess Julianne Lauenstein said, “The best moment was when we turned the corner from Orange Grove to Colorado and could see all the people lined up. That must indeed be an overwhelming moment; many queens and princesses throughout the years have mentioned it.

Boys and girls came to Allendale Library to hear the young women on the 2018 Royal Court.

Meeting people, from the many retirement homes they visited to talking to hospitalized children, was stated several times. Princess Savannah Bradley said she was inspired by the people she met, and disappointed that she had to stand in the hall at one of the hospitals because she had a cold. (Library assistant Terry Cannon asked about that; it turns out that with their busy schedules and fall maladies, all the girls got sick at one point or another.)

 

They mentioned celebrities like Grand Marshal Gary Sinise and the oldest living Rose Queen, Margaret Huntley Main. Queen Isabella Continue reading “Cake & Conversation with the Royal Court”

Royal Court opens Pasadena CVB Visitor Hotline

2018 Royal Court: Princesses Georgia Cervenka, Sydney  Pickering, Julianne Laurenstein. Queen Isabella Marez, Princesses Alexandra Artura, Savannah Bradley, Lauren Buehner.

 

by Laura Berthold Monteros

In the second of nine events scheduled for Dec. 29, the Tournament of Roses Royal Court opened the phones for the Visitor Hotline. Rose Queen Isabella Marie Marez, the 100th young woman to hold that title, cut the ribbon as the six Royal Princesses, Alexandra Marie Artura, Savannah Rose Bradley, Lauren Elizabeth Buehner, Georgia Jane Cervenka, Julianne Elise Laurenstein and Sydney Grace Pickering, looked on.

The Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau operates the service for the last few days of December every year. Information on all Tournament events is at the fingertips of the helpful volunteers. The hotline runs through Jan. 1, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

We asked Queen Isabella how callers reacted when she identified Continue reading “Royal Court opens Pasadena CVB Visitor Hotline”