It’s been said that the Pasadena Tournament of Roses is not running a beauty contest for the seven young women who will serve on the Rose Parade Royal Court. They’re looking for “the girl next door,” albeit a poised, intelligent, articulate, and community-minded girl next door. Monday’s announcement of the 2015 Royal Court, which will reign over the 126th Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2015, was accompanied with the announcement the replacement for Louis Zamperini as the Grand Marshal, who passed away on July 3.
Mark Leavens, chair of the Tournament of Roses Queen and Court Committee, read the names and schools of the 31 finalists as they took their place on the south steps of Tournament House, awaiting the final announcement of the Royal Court. More than 700 girls had tried out a month earlier. A combination of blistering heat and college entrance exams may have kept that number well under the usual 950 to 1,000 applicants.
Tournament of Roses Pres. Richard Chinen stepped to the lectern to open the seven envelopes that contained the names of the new Court. “Let there be no mistake about the depth of beauty in these young women,” he said, and spoke about the inspiring stories—his theme for the 126th Rose Parade—that they and their families have.
Chinen also answered a question that has been on the minds of Rose Parade fans. Since the death of Grand Marshal Louis Zamperini, who will replace him? He spoke of how Zamperini was looking forward to meeting the girls on the Court. “Honoring Louis as this year’s Grand Marshal will be his family,” Chinen said, something that many expected. “He would have been so thrilled to share this.”
Chinen then announced the young ladies who will represent the Tournament for the next 12 months at more than 100 events, and from whom the 97th Rose Queen will be chosen. They are seven girls who not only could live next door, but who also have ambitions to go into medical work, the theater, business, or a combination thereof. They were presented with roses by princesses from the previous court, Sarah Hansen, Elyssia Widjaja and Kayla Johnson-Granberry. A profile of each princess will appear in this column, along with photos of each.
The 2015 Royal Court Princesses are Emily Alicia Olivas Stoker, 17, Temple City High School; Veronica Sara Mejia, 19, Pasadena City College; Mackenzie Joy Byers, 18, Pasadena City College; Gabrielle Ann Current, 18, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Simona K. Shao, 17, Westridge School; Madison Elaine Triplett, 17, John Marshall Fundamental High School; and Bergen Louise Onufer, 17, Mayfield Senior School. Of note, it has been some time since two women from Pasadena City College were chosen for the same court, which makes this Court a bit older than in the past several years.