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Anya Anand and Lili Rosebrook finally get their parade, original crown featured

COURTESY PHOTO: ROSE FESTIVAL - Lili Rosebrook, 2021 Rose Festival queen, stands with parents Phillip Rosebrook and Deanna Connell at the 2021 Queen's Coronation at Washington Park. Connell preceded Rosebrook as a Rose Festival queen in 1989.Anya Anand, the Queen of Rosaria from 2020, will finally get her time in the limelight.

There she'll be, riding on a float in the Grand Floral Parade along with the Rose Festival Court from the year that gave us the infamous COVID-19 pandemic and government restrictions. She wasn't able to ride in a 2020 parade or a 2021 parade as Rose Festival queen — both canceled because of the pandemic that forced the Rose Festival to limit its usually joyful activities.

From Lincoln High School and now attending University of Oregon, Anand said it's been "sad" to see pictures of other Rose Festival queens and court being feted in parades and elsewhere — without masks and socially distancing and everything that goes with dealing with the pandemic. Yet, she remains appreciative of being named queen and her anticipated 2022 experience.

"That's just what came with that year, unfortunately," she said. "I really do appreciate the Rose Festival for wanting to bring all the 2020 girls back and getting us all on a float. It is being salvaged as much as possible."

Likewise, Lilianna "Lili" Rosebrook was named queen in a historic 2021 Queen's Coronation and she, too, had to only imagine what riding in the Grand Floral Parade on a float, smiling and waving, could have been like for her. Rosebrook, from Valley Catholic, and her mother Deanna Connell, the 1989 queen from St. Mary's Academy, are the first mother-daughter queens in Rose Festival history.

"It's a little disappointing being queen in the middle of the pandemic because things were canceled," said Rosebrook, an Oregon State University freshman. "I'm excited for the opportunity I had. I'm excited to ride in the parade this year. I've been in some local parades (Tillamook, Battle Ground, Washington), which was super fun."

Anand and Rosebrook will be part of the "Royal Reunion" segment of the Grand Floral Parade, in which floats carry the 2022 queen and court, the 2021 queen/court, the 2020 queen/court, the 1972 queen/court (50-year float) and also features a float commemorating the 100th anniversary of the original queen's crown. In addition, 2019 queen Mya Brazile, from St. Mary's Academy and now attending Clackamas Community College, will walk in the parade along with past queens and princesses.

"It's the most Rose Festival royalty of all time," said Marilyn Clint, Rose Festival chief operating officer.

The crown float, designed by longtime float builder Gene Dent, will include a huge crown figure and a model wearing the original crown. The 1922, Harriet Griffith, first wore the crown. For the past several years, the Rose Festival queen has been crowned with the original crown, and then she wears the "traveling" crown for events, including the parade, because the original is too valuable, precious and delicate.

It was originally a gift from the Business and Professional Women's Club of Portland, and it was designed by Charles M. Pennell Jr. and made by Jaeger Brothers. The frame is made of 14-carat gold filigree, featuring a blue zircon at its tip, seven pigeon-blood rubies and 650 white sapphires.

"It's such a great time for the city to come together and reunite after such a long time of being separated and all of this uncertainty," Rosebrook said of Rose Festival. "To finally open up, it's great to see hope in the community and looking to the future. And all the great things that Portlanders can do and finally celebrate."

Rosebrook's grandmother, Ivonne Connell, moved to Portland from Cuba in the 1950s, as Fidel Castro led a revolution in her home country. It was her desire to be a Rose Festival princess, as a St. Mary's Academy student, but "she didn't speak English well enough and didn't get an opportunity," Rosebrook said. "But, she encouraged my mom to go after that."

And, Deanna Connell went after the crown, and achieved it as a St. Mary's student — followed 32 years later by her daughter from Valley Catholic. Rosebrook is so happy to be representing her school, community and family.

"It's almost like she's living it through us," Rosebrook said of her "nana."

She added: "She's so proud everywhere we go, 'This is my granddaughter, she's the queen, and we have the queen mother!' To be able to wear the crown and be referred to as royalty is really special. Most little girls have a dream of being a princess or a queen, I get to live out that dream."

Rosebrook, 19, is studying chemical engineering at Oregon State, taking early classes such as statics and organic chemistry. She lives in a dorm. She enjoys the college life.

And, Rosebrook enjoys being the queen and attending events such as Rose Festival Honors. She has often taken a bus back from Corvallis for events. She'll be crowning the 2022 queen June 10 at Peninsula Park.

"To be connected to the history (of Rose Festival and Royal Rosarians) is such a blessing. Not everyone can see this side of things," she said.

Anand was fortunate to attend some events as queen, but the pandemic hindered her tenure. She attended the 2020 Royal Rosarians' prime minister ball and the 2021 court blessing. She did a day of traveling to events with fellow court members and, like all queens, sat for her portrait painting.

COURTESY PHOTO: ROSE FESTIVAL - Anya Anand was named 2020 Rose Festival queen at Washington Park in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant her reign was limited. But, she'll be riding in a float in the "Royal Reunion" segment of the 2022 Grand Floral Parade.Anand was a college freshman as a reigning queen — but didn't leave her home. She took online classes through University of California-Davis, while working at Columbia Employee Store. "I loved getting that extra year to spend with my parents," she said.

She transferred to University of Oregon for the 2021-22 school year. She's studying human physiology and minoring in psychology, with a plan to eventually attend medical school. "It's closer to home, has in-state tuition, and some high school credits worked out better at U of O than at Davis," Anand said.

Anand, 20, is excited to see fellow 2020 court members again.

"We've never been on a float together. So crazy to think back on it," she said, of the 2020 court happenings.

Brazile had the pleasure of riding on a float in the 2019 parade, and being celebrated as queen — even three years later.

"I get around family and they're like, 'Queen!'" she said. "People continue to celebrate. It's so long ago, memories pop up on my phone, '2 years since this, 3 years since this.'

"I appreciate the festival always keeping us included, even after we've been crowned. That's what makes it not feel long ago, you still feel a part and involved. They found out how to deal with COVID; they found a way to not let the tradition die."

Brazile's life since being queen has taken a few twists and turns.

From St. Mary's, she committed to attend and play basketball at Concordia University, but the school announced its closure during her freshman year, 2019-20. Just before that news, Brazile found out she had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) "and about everything else in my knee."

And, "then COVID hits and they needed everyone to go home."

COURTESY PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE/ROSE FESTIVAL - Mya Brazile was the last Rose Festival queen to go through Queen's Coronation at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, and ride in the Grand Floral Parade. She looks forward to being part of the "Royal Reunion" segment of the Grand Floral Parade.So, Brazile sat at home attending online classes and rehabilitating her knee while searching for another school to attend. She landed at Clackamas Community College for basketball, "the best decision I've made."

Now 21, she'll work on her Associate in Arts degree, play a season of soccer at Clackamas and then plan to attend Portland State University and possibly play more soccer. She wants to be in sports broadcasting and journalism.

Brazile proudly proclaims "I was the first queen to serve more than a year. I served a year and two months." The 2020 Queen's Coronation was moved from June until later in the summer because of the pandemic.

She welcomes another opportunity to be in a parade.

"I have friends who now live here, some teammates from Concordia, and while I was queen I didn't get to share the experience with them," she said. "I was excited for them to come to the (2020) parades and it didn't happen. I'm excited for them to see the festival.

"This is what we call home and (Rose Festival) means a lot. Vibrancy, good food, good times, good people. Festival brings out the best of things."

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