Tournament Tradition Flourishes at Annual High Tea with the Rose Queen and Royal Court

2019 Tournament of Roses Queen Louise Deser Siskel is escorted by Abel Ramirez for the start of High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.High Tea with 2019 Tournament of Rose Court.The Precious Gems perform during High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.Sandwiches and tea is served for High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.Young girls take part in High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.2019 Roses Royal Court, Helen Susan Rossi, left, and Rucha S. Kadam enjoy tea during High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.2019 Roses Royal Court, Lauren Michele Baydaline, left, and Ashley Symone Hackett enjoy tea during High Tea with the 2019 Rose Court.2019 Roses Royal Court, Sherry Xiaorui Ma enjoys tea.High Tea with 2019 Tournament of Rose Court.

Story by ANDY VITALICIO with DAVID CROSS | Photography by JAMES CARBONE

5:46 am | November 21, 2018


Pasadena Senior Center’s Scott Pavilion was transformed into an elegant, beautifully decorated tea room Monday, November 19 for high afternoon tea and a reception feting newly crowned 2019 Rose Queen Louise Deser Siskel, and her Royal Court, Princesses Lauren Michele Baydaline, Ashley Symone Hackett, Rucha S. Kadam, Sherry Xiaorui Ma, Micaela Sue McElrath and Helen Susan Rossi.

High Tea with the Rose Queen has become an annual tradition at the Pasadena Senior Center over the past fourteen years, said Annie Laskey, the Senior Center’s Director of Special Events.

Over 140 enjoyed this year’s festivities.

This was Laskey’s second annual high tea with the Rose Queen, and like the first, she’s grateful that the Tournament of Roses Association has chosen to put the Pasadena Senior Center on the Rose Queen and her Court’s touring list, despite the young ladies’ busy schedule.

“We have a nice long relationship with the Tournament of Roses committee and I’ve had the pleasure of hosting many of these young women over the years,” Laskey said. “Every year is wonderful.”

The annual event provides Pasadena seniors and guests the opportunity to see the Rose Queen and her Court up close, hear them speak about their plans, interact during a brief Q&A session, and socialize with them afterwards.

As the Royal Court is introduced one by one and seated, Monday’s tea featured live music by Precious Gems, a female barbershop quartet from Verdugo Hills. The entertainment actually imparts a fun element to an otherwise seriously formal English tradition, Laskey said.

“Instead of having piano and harp or chamber music, we try to liven it up with a little bit of something more modern,” Laskey said. “In the past, our own Tap Chicks (Pasadena Senior Center’s entertaining dance group) have performed for us. We’ve had Mariachi singers. And this year, we decided to go with the female barber shoppers because we’re celebrating these wonderful strong young women, who are the Queen and her Court.”

During the main course, each member of the Royal Court introduced herself and spoke about what they hope to do in the future, what their hobbies and interests are now, and what they look forward to doing when they leave high school.

Rose Queen Louise Siskel particularly talked about her interests in helping people across the globe, her hopes to become a doctor, and being the first Jewish Rose Queen (as well as “the first queen who wears glasses”).

“Queen Louise is a very lovely young woman and she’s tall and statuesque and lovely, like you would expect the Queen to be. She’s just really delightful and down to earth,” Laskey said. “As you might imagine, it is incredibly inspiring because every single one of them is just amazing.”

Monday’s high tea was sponsored by Chado Tea Room in Pasadena; Right at Home, a Pasadena senior home care agency; and The Kensington, an assisted-living residence in Sierra Madre.

The staff also got lots of help from Abel Ramirez of El Portal Restaurant, one of the Pasadena Senior Center’s Board Members. Ramirez and his wife took care of folding rose-shaped napkins and other decorations at the Scott Pavilion.

“We certainly hope that we will be able to do this next year because everybody seemed to have a wonderful time,” Laskey said. “It’s an affirming event because it can get pretty depressing when you get this sense of the younger generation being people who are attached to their cell phones and don’t know how to do anything anymore. And then you hear these seven ladies get up… it’s lovely to experience a really positive story.”