One girl wore black high-top tennies with white socks. Another wore six-inch wedgies. Both were trying out for one of the highest honors a girl in the Pasadena area can achieve: a place on the Rose Parade Royal Court as one of six Rose Princesses or even the Rose Queen.
They lined up with other girls and a few boys from local schools on Saturday at Tournament House in the first step towards being chosen to ride the Queen’s float in the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade. Some came for the fun of it, some to call attention to a cause. They came with friends or on their own. They were outgoing and shy, confident and nervous, dressed to the nines or like the girl next door.
The turnout on Saturday morning was much lower than usual, due to college entrance exams given in the morning, Tournament representatives opined to Examiner. A Tournament representative said that almost 1,000 girls had filled out applications online, and several Tournament people said they expected there would be a rush in the afternoon and on Monday afternoon when the tryouts continue.
Examiner spoke with several of the candidates after they had said their piece to the judges and taken a tour of Tournament House. Each candidate receives a photo, a 2015 Rose Parade poster and a ticket to the Royal Ball, which is held later this month. The interviews are featured in the list at the end of this article. The parade theme, “Inspiring Stories,” was a recurring phrase in their responses.
Hopefuls who showed up in the afternoon faced triple-digit temperatures, which seems to be as regular an occurrence for the first day of tryouts as a rainless New Year’s Day is for the parade. There was plenty of water around the campus and umbrellas for shade, something California palm trees don’t provide in abundance. “We always seem choose the hottest weekend,” one of the Tournament public relations representatives noted.
Rose Princesses orient hopefuls for 2015 Royal Court
Past princesses and queens like Princesses Elyssia Widjaja, Katie Lipp and Jamie Kwong, who served on the 2014 Tournament of Roses Royal Court, orient the young women who are trying out for the Royal Court. They tell the candidates about their own experiences trying out and being on the court, and what to expect, what the judges are looking for (“be yourself”) and how to handle the media.
Julian and James: It’s not just girls who line up for the judges
Julian (No. 26) and James (No. 24) from South Pasadena High School arrived at Saturday’s tryouts at 5:45 a.m. “Our plan was to be the first ones here,” Julian said. “It was still dark.” They were the first to get to Tournament House, but they hadn’t filled out the registration forms online and had to do so while 23 girls got in ahead of them.
James said they came because “We thought it would be interesting. It’s weird how people are treating us, because they didn’t know we were serious.” He added, “It’s kind of a funny thing to say you’ve done.”
Julian said, “We were ostracized a bit” and added that it might have thrown people off because they arrived so early. “We tried out like we were serious. Even though we can’t win, we tried out as though we could win.”
Each candidate has a few seconds to tell the judges why she (or he) wants to be on the Court. Julian had quite a spiel: “Hello, I’m No. 26. If I had to be a fruit, I would be a grape, because I’m well-rounded, packed with juice, and when you take a bite of me (insert chomping sound), I’m oh-so-sweet. I have a grape personality. For every queen, I think there’s a king, and I can be your Rose King.”
James said, “Mine didn’t go as planned.” He was going to remove his jacket and had practiced a walk, but the area was too small. He did mention that there had been Rose Kings in the past, and indeed he is correct. There was an unofficial king in 1912, when aviation pioneer Calbraith P. Rodgers made two flyovers of the Rose Parade, dropping carnations onto the crowd, and official kings (and queens) in 1913 and 1914.
Rebecca: An amazing experience
Rebecca attends Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, a prep school in La Cañada Flintridge that consistently has girls on the Court, including 2012 Rose Queen Drew Washington. “The school really encourages us to try out for the Royal Court and really supports us in doing so,” she said.
“It was an amazing experience. I was nervous in the beginning, but when I got up there…something was lifted off my shoulders. I was very happy that I didn’t stutter.” Her speech “flowed naturally,” she said.
She hopes that women will see her “as an inspiring story to the Crown City.”
Samantha and Ingrid: Encouraging others
Samantha (No. 62) and Ingrid (No. 60) attend Gabrielino High School in San Gabriel. The 20-year-old school has not had a girl on the Royal Court yet, but Ingrid told us, “Some girls went last year and had fun.” They encouraged their fellow students to try out.
She tried out because “It seemed like a really fun experience. I’m very competitive, I like being able to show people what I have.” She continued, “I think the experience itself is really thrilling. You learn about yourself, what you can achieve.” Ingrid would like to be influential to other girls.
Samantha said, “I wanted to do it. I wanted to be a role model for other girls…. My family background is kind of hard, I wanted to help girls with the same background. I want girls to know if they don’t have a father figure, the can get help from others.”
Kiara: A Pasadena tradition and an inspiration
Kiara attends John Muir High School in Pasadena, and tried out “because I wanted to be part of a Pasadena tradition and I’ve always wanted to be on the Court.” When her turn came to address the panel of judges, “I said that I think I would inspire young girls, because I’m a plus size and I think it would inspire plus-size girls to come out.”
She has some very definite plans for her future beyond the Rose Parade. She has narrowed her college choices down, and shared, “I want to be a doctor.” But not just any doctor—a trauma surgeon. “I’ve always said it, so….”
Did she enjoy the morning’s experience? “I did!” she responded with enthusiasm.
Breana and Denisse: Fun in spite of nerves
Breana (No. 143) and Denisse (No. 147) both attend John Marshall High School in Pasadena, but they came separately and met up after they tried out.
Breana said, “I thought it would be a fun experience.” Was it, we asked? “Yeah!” she responded. And what did she tell the judges? “I honestly don’t remember!” She said she was a little nervous, “but I’m not very good at speaking in front of people.” Asked if this experience might help, she said, “It possibly could help me a little bit.”
Denisse came “because I want people to see me as something like that. Royal.” She said, “I told the judges that I wanted to represent all the Latino young women out there, and we’re capable of anything.”
After the speeches and the tours
Girls gather in knots in front of Tournament House on Orange Grove Blvd. after trying out for the 2015 Rose Parade Royal Court. They each get a photo taken, a 2015 Rose Parade poster, and a ticket to the Royal Ball. These girls represent the diversity of the Pasadena area and share the hopes of all the applicants that they might ride down Colorado Blvd. on the Queen’s Float on New Year’s Day.
Princess poses and princess smiles
Some of the candidates for the 2015 Rose Parade Royal Court wait their turn to go before the judges from the Tournament of Roses Queen and Court Committee on Saturday morning. Candidates line up along the walkway to Tournament House, have orientation on the porch, and then move to the side lawn before taking the final walk before the judging panel. The turnout was lower than usual, likely due to college exams also scheduled on that morning. Almost 1,000 girls had filled out the online application, a Tournament representative said.