2020 Rose Fest Princesses choose their Queen themselves
This year, all Portland Rose Festival events were cancelled or heavily modified due to COVID-19 coronavirus concerns – including the Queen's Coronation, originally scheduled for Saturday morning, June 6, just before the start of the Grand Floral Parade, which didn't happen either.
However, at last, on Thursday, July 30, in the Washington Park International Rose Test Gardens, a new Portland Rose Festival "Queen of Rosaria" for this year was crowned.
"This afternoon, after a nearly two month delay, Mya Brazile, one of the Rose Festival's longest-reigning Queens, will hand her crown to the newly-selected 2020 Queen, in a special coronation ceremony," exclaimed Portland Rose Festival Association spokesperson Rich Jarvis, just before the event got underway.
"Due to the pandemic restrictions and the limitations on activities or gatherings, we couldn't get the judges together in one place and at one time to evaluate our candidates," Jarvis told THE BEE. "So, this year's Queen was selected by those who know these candidates best – the members of the 2020 Court Princesses themselves!
"The last time the Court elected its own Queen was in 1930, the first year that the Festival started featuring high school students on the Court," Jarvis said. "Of course, this year's Queen will not get to ride in a 2020 parade – but she'll definitely make it into next year's parade!"
Under the unrelenting heat of the midday sun, the members of this year's Portland Rose Festival Court were individually introduced as they entered the Royal Rosarian Garden section – specifically, the area featuring the "Walk of Queens" – and then they were seated along an aisle among the rose bushes.
All of the Princesses wore summery, off-the-shoulder, floral print dresses; and, in keeping with the times, matching face coverings as well. Organizers thoughtfully provided white parasols to shade the princesses as the program got underway.
After the invocation, 2019-2020 Royal Rosarian Minister of Rosaria Kimberly Bown addressed the group, saying in part, "After working for a long time on it this year, we're coming together to deliver a unique and special celebration for the Rose Festival in our city today."
After being escorted to her throne, 2019 Rose Festival Queen Mya Brazile told of the many activities that had highlighted her extended reign.
"You ladies you look lovely with your parasols," Queen Mya said with a warm smile. "I am grateful to my Rose Festival family for providing such a great year. We've had many hurdles, but we hopped over every one successfully."
Those scattered around the garden, under the hot sun, looked pleased that the program was abridged – as Lincoln High School Princess Anya Annon was announced the 2020 Queen of Rosaria.
Even though it's been a most unusual Portland Rose Festival season, all four of the Princesses who reside in Inner Southeast Portland told THE BEE that their experience has been positive and uplifting.
Cleveland High School Princess Zoey Weesner commented, "The most memorable part of the Rose Festival, and an amazing gift for me, was getting to visit and explore parts of Portland I never knew existed. I've lived in this city my whole life, and I've never visited places such as Portland's White House or the Pittock Mansion."
About the coronation ceremony, Princess Zoey commented, "I couldn't imagine a more beautiful and fitting place to crown this year's Queen. Being able to incorporate the Queen's Walk in this ceremony made this year even more memorable; it was a perfect place to crown our new Queen Anya."
Woodstock resident and Central Catholic High School Princess Melyssa Okazaki described both the ceremony, and the newly-crowned queen, as "absolutely gorgeous".
She added, "My most memorable part of the Portland Rose Festival this year was travelling with 14 of my fellow amazing Princesses, and being able to meet and get an insight into the lives of the inspiring men and women who make Portland such a beautiful place to live, work, and visit."
St. Mary's Academy's Princess Grace Gentner, a resident of Eastmoreland, said about her participation in the Rose Festival Court, "I think that everyone's perseverance and compassion have been incredibly memorable! Despite all the challenges put in front of us, the Rose Festival has adjusted to overcome obstacles with the grace, kindness, and civic-minded thinking that defines the organization."
After the coronation ceremony, Princess Grace observed, "I regarded the ceremony as a special gift that set our 2020 Court apart. Not only was the venue impeccably beautiful, but it allowed for a return to historic Rose Festival tradition."
Franklin High School Princess Doré Young observed about the ceremony, "It was very warm here today, but the historical significance and our chance to honor Queen Anya in the Rose Garden made it all worthwhile."
What she'll always remember, Princess Doré said, "Will definitely be the meals I shared with the other Princesses. We always had so much fun and, for some reason, everyone's sense of humor really came out at those lunch tables."
So once again, congratulations to all four of Southeast Portland's 2020 Princesses – Zoey, Melyssa, Grace, and Doré!
Keep up to date on the future plans of the Portland Rose Festival, online – www.rosefestival.org
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