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Jensen Kaelin says she's had 'so much fun' as part of court, despite changes due to pandemic

Jensen Kaelin, a 2020 Rose Festival princess and graduate of Lake Oswego High School, said she had the best experience of her life on the Rose Festival court.

Her family has a history with the Rose Festival stemming back to her mom, who grew up in the Portland area and attended St. Mary's Academy. Her mom had friends who represented St. Mary's Academy in the Rose Festival. Growing up, Jensen felt inspired by the new Rose Festival princesses every year.COURTESY PHOTO: JENSEN KAELIN - Jensen Kaelin (right), alongside her fellow princess, Kimberly.

She said the festival's unique pillars of education, environmentalism and volunteerism also drew her to it.

"I really love their tradition and the spirit of the Rose Festival," Kaelin said.

Her time in high school was filled to the brim with sports and volunteering, which made her application for the civic engagement festival shine.

"I varsity lettered in six sports," she said.

She grew up with a love for sports.

"Ever since I was little my parents always knew I had so much energy, so they just threw me in sports," she said.

She was able to get her energy out and garner some life skills in the process.

"I learned so many life lessons through sports — like how to deal with adverse situations … how to adjust and become coachable," she said.

Aside from sports she also volunteered with local and national organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House, Oregon Food Bank and the Lake Oswego Public Library.

"I did a ton of volunteering," Kaelin said.

That energy didn't stop when school closed and quarantine started.

"Because of quarantine I accomplished all of my summer plans," she said. Aside from her Rose Festival activities, she got a yoga certification, took classes at Portland Community College and spent time with family.

"I honestly think my biggest motivation [is] my parents. They have put so much time and energy to make me who I am," she said.

Kaelin said Rose Princesses are ambassadors of Portland.

"We spread cheer and awareness about the Rose Parade," she said.

The court had weekly virtual meetings over Zoom for a couple months before it was safe enough to meet in person.

She said the court members immediately clicked.

"We all had different interests and we all really came together," Kaelin said.

When the whole court was at headquarters, they had "princess class" where they practiced etiquette and social distancing measures before heading out into the community for their excursions.

"I had so much fun, like literally everybody on the court is so nice," Kaelin said. "I can't even come up with words to describe how wonderful everyone is."

The court visited many local locations. Princesses toured the Oregon Zoo and Pittock Mansion, as well as Horizon Air headquarters and a number of retirement homes.

Kaelin said the visits to retirement homes were fun because they got to put a smile on the faces of residents who don't normally get a lot of visitors. The visit looked different at each retirement facility, but each event followed social distancing protocols.

The court also met an Adidas representative who gave a presentation about the brand.

"If I'm being my own sporty self that was my favorite part," Kaelin said.

Although the traditional Rose Festival Parade wasn't held this year, the court participated in a number of virtual and porch parades.

Jensen said her family's porch parade was fun because they got to decorate the house for something other than Christmas.

She said she's thankful for everyone who worked to make the Rose Festival happen this year.

"This was one of the best experiences of my life," she said.

She added that she encourages anyone who is considering applying to do so.

"All the little girls out there, anybody, please apply."

Just like sports, Jensen said this experience taught her some valuable life skills.

"I learned to enjoy life as it goes on," Jensen said.

Even though the pandemic detoured the festivities a bit, she continued to go all in.

"And I absolutely did not regret a thing," she said.

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