[Editor’s Note: A young woman quoted in this story identified herself to our reporter as an Alverno High School student named Dani. She emailed late Saturday: “IÂ wasn’t paying attention today when you asked me what school I go to and I wanted to change it: I go to FSHA not Alverno.” That change has been made to the story below.]
About 950 young women from the Pasadena area tried out for the opportunity to be part of the 2013-2014 Royal Court for the Tournament of Roses on Saturday.
With high energy and tense nerves, these hopeful participants had 15 seconds to make a great first impression with the selection committee in an effort to be invited back for the next round. After the month-long process, involving four rounds of interviews, seven young women will be named to the Royal Court and one of them named the 96th Rose Queen on October 24, 2013.
â€œTheyâ€™re looking for their ability to present themselves, their poise and personalityâ€”whatever they can gather in that 15 seconds. Theyâ€™re really going off first impression today. They will be out there representing the tournament and Pasadena and how they represent themselves in those 15 seconds will be what theyâ€™re doing as ambassadors,â€ saidÂ Heidi Hoff, Senior Director, Marketing & Communications at Tournament of Roses.
Three of the 2012-2013 Rose Princesses helped prepare and guide the eager participants, with one of them admitting she tripped on her way up to her initial interview.
â€œBe yourself, be confident, be poised and do the best that you can. Have fun with it, donâ€™t take it too seriously and say what you feel not what you think the judges want to hear. They want to know the essence of you, who you are where you come from,â€ Rose Princess Nicole Nelam said.
The young women who are selected will have to make 150 public appearances while juggling homework, college applications, and other school activities. Some of the activities include luncheons, speaking at Kiwanis, and going to Disneyland with the football players.
Now that Princess Nicole has almost completed her Rose Court experience, she looks forward to joining a few of the organizations she learned about during the public appearances.
â€œThe most amazing part of this experience is becoming more confident in myself and realizing that I can speak in front of an audience, I can meet new people and be confident and really have a great sense of self. I wish every girl could feel that confidence you get from going through this experience,â€ Rose Princess Madison Teodo said.
The participants came to the try outs for a variety of reasons on Saturday, many have been dreaming of this moment their whole life.
â€œItâ€™s always been my dream ever since I was a little girl. I watched all the pretty girls with the dresses and tiaras and as I got older it was more about service to the community and thatâ€™s something that I really want to do and be an ambassador for the Tournament of Roses,â€ sixteen-year-old Julia of Alverno High School said.
Reagan of Alverno High School has been promising her grandma since she was young that she would tryout. She loved having the opportunity to try out and looks forward to telling her kids about it one day.
â€œAfterward I feel so much better and I feel like I just conquered the world right nowâ€¦ Iâ€™ve waited 17 years for this,â€ seventeen-year-old Reagan said.
Blair High School attendee Jessica also came to fill a promise to her grandmother.
â€œI came to fulfill a promise I made to my grandmother. She deceased a couple of months ago so I said I have to do this for her and for me because I wanted to keep that promise to her,â€ Jessica said.
First generation from El Salvador, Lupeâ€™s story was inspired by her mother who was the Queen of a similar parade in El Salvador during independence weekend. This 17-year-old who attends Marshall High School hopes to follow in her motherâ€™s footsteps and show her family that she is doing big things in America.
Lupeâ€™s friend Astrid said, â€œI wanted to go through the experience and learn from it. I wanted to represent minorities because I donâ€™t really think the Latinos have been represented on the court. It would be an honor for me to serve as a model for the younger generation.â€
To be considered the women must be between the ages of 17 and 21 and attend one of the eligible schools in the greater Pasadena area. While part of the requirement is to be an unmarried female, a handful of young men did try out on Saturday.
â€œAnybody can tryout and go through the process. They all like to try out because they get a ticket to the royal ball, so I think thatâ€™s why anybody tries out,â€ Hoff said.
One of the young women confirmed her desire for tickets to the Royal Ball held September 27 for all the participants of the Royal Court Tryouts.
â€œI wanted the ball tickets. I like to party. I saw photos and I said it sounds like a rager, why not? Plus I look cute in black dresses,â€ said seventeen-year-old Dani, who attends Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy.
After the initial interview process, approximately 250 individuals will be invited back. From that group, about 75 young women will be asked to participate in the next round of interviews. On October 3, about 25 of the candidates will be announced as finalists, and then the seven-member Royal Court will be announced on October 7. Once the announcement is made, the royal court will go through presentation training and speech training to hone in on those skills.
In past years, there have been separate events at which the Rose Queen was announced and then received her crown; this year, the announcement and coronation will take place together on the evening of October 24 at First Church of the Nazarene of Pasadena.
The grand finale for the Royal Court will be riding a float in the 125th Rose Parade presented by Honda and attending the 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO on New Yearâ€™s Day.