Bring on the Hopefuls: First Round of Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court Interviews Set to Begin

Young women begin the first round of try outs for the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court and Rose Queen.Young women from the greater Pasadena area wait in line to register to try out for the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court and Rose Queen.Young women from the greater Pasadena area wait in line to register to try out for the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court and Rose Queen.Young women were asked to wear something they feel comfortable in, reflects their personality and will make a good first impression. Kathleen from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is all smiles as she receives her number.The 100th Rose Queen Isabella Marez talks with the young ladies about her experience trying out for the Royal Court.Young women from the greater Pasadena area wait in line to register to try out for the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court and Rose Queen.Elsie from Maranatha High School is next to be interviewed by the Tournament of Roses- Queen and Court Committee.Elsie from Maranatha High School is interviewed by the Tournament of Roses- Queen and Court Committee.A young lady is escorted through the Tournament of Roses house grounds after being interviewed.Young women from the greater Pasadena area are interviewed by the Tournament of Roses-Queen and Court Committee.Young women from the greater Pasadena area are escorted to be interviewed by the Tournament of Roses-Queen and Court Committee.Young women from the greater Pasadena area wait in line to register to try out for the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court and Rose Queen.Young women from the greater Pasadena area are escorted to be interviewed by the Tournament of Roses-Queen and Court Committee.

By DONNA BALANCIA | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

4:44 am | September 5, 2019


Please note: The pictures above were taken at last year’s interviews. This year’s interviews start this Saturday, September 7.

[Updated] It’s that time of the year when a young woman’s dreams of being on the Tournament of Roses Royal Court can come true. But first it’s important to calm those nerves, say those in the know.

The first round of interviews for the Tournament Royal Court is this weekend.

“You have to be yourself,” said 2019 Rose Parade Princess Ashley Hackett, now a John Muir High School graduate.  “That’s what they want, they want you to be yourself. The Tournament loves authentic personalities and people who can smile and light up a room.”

The interviews are an age-old tradition that still gets a lot of interest at this time of the year, when local young women have a chance to show off their generation’s best and brightest. There are benefits to being on the Court.

“Young women can immerse themselves in an organization dedicated to hands-on volunteerism and discover opportunities to connect with and give back to the local community,” said Candy Carlson, senior manager of communications for the Pasadena Tournament of Roses. “There is a $7,500 educational scholarship, wardrobe for appearances, public speaking class credit, and chaperoned transportation to and from Royal Court activities.”

There’s also an opportunity to develop public speaking and etiquette skills, and grow self-confidence, as well as make lifelong friends and be a role model for others, Carlson said.

But probably the most well-known function is to be on a global stage while riding in the 131st Rose Parade, and then to get front-row seats and plenty of attention at the Rose Bowl Game.

The Parade is presented by Honda and the 106th Rose Bowl Game is presented by Northwestern Mutual.

Fond Memories

Remembering her own interviews, Hackett said she was shy then, but these days she doesn’t shy away from a challenge. Since she was on the Court last year, she’s gone on to do some pretty amazing things. She’s a pre-business economics major at UCLA and she wants to go into financial management for athletes.

But the thought of going in front of the Queen and Court Committee brings back memories.

“I’m a Pasadena native and my grandmother was the one who took me to Rose Parade,” she said. “Her favorite float was the Queen’s float.”

Hackett said bring awarded the position on the Court was a “wonderful experience.”

Sadly, Hackett’s grandmother never knew. She had been diagnosed with dementia and was not aware of her granddaughter’s success.

What does Hackett actually remember about the interviews?

“(Interviews) are on Saturday [Editor: and the following Monday], you register, tell them your high school, where you live, you tell the Rose Court Committee what qualities you possess,” she said. “I was really nervous. I knew the significance of the Tournament of Roses to my grandmother. I had pressure I put on myself. Sometimes people psych themselves out.”

“It’s important to remember the Tournament is not a beauty pageant,” Hackett said. “They are selecting you off the knowledge you possess. If you have a beautiful soul it will show on the outside.”

What should the young women know going in?

“They’ll ask you about your volunteer work, how you impacted the community,” Hackett said. “They want to get a feel for what type of person you are and where your interests lie.”

The experience may mark a life moment.

“It’s a growing process,” Hackett said. “They teach you a lot. For me [it was] the shyness, I was thinking if I can get through the interview I’ll be OK.”

This year, the actual location of the tryouts will change.

“While in years past the interviews have taken place outside on our south lawn, we have moved the interviews inside Tournament House this year,” Carlson said.

Carlson said to the best of her recollection, there hasn’t been a daughter of a Royal Court member or Queen come to try out,  and there hasn’t been a second-generation Court member or Queen.

The Process for Applicants

Participants check-in on the front steps of Tournament House and proceed to a short orientation with previous Royal Court members. From there the participants will head inside Tournament House where they will await their chance to tell the Queen and Court committee why they want to be a member of the 2020 Royal Court. After the brief interview they will have the opportunity to take a tour of Tournament House and they will have a photograph taken with a bouquet of red roses to commemorate the moment.

All participants who interview receive two tickets to the Royal Ball, a city-wide dance which takes place at the Pasadena Convention Center. Additionally, the process is good practice for future interviews such as college admissions interviews or new job interviews.

The Tournament first round interviews are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 7 from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Monday, Sept. 9 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Tournament House, 391 Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena.

For hopeful Court Members and Queen, there is more information here:

 https://tournamentofroses.com/events/royal-court/