There really is nothing quite like it—the Royal Court for the Tournament of Roses. Sure, the seven young women who are selected are lovely and poised, but there is so much more to being a representative of the Tournament and the City of Pasadena. Tournament of Roses Examiner spoke with Emily Stoker, a 2015 Rose Princess, at the tryouts on Saturday at Tournament House in Pasadena. In the photo list below are conversations with 11 of the hopefuls.
Princess Emily just started her college career at San Diego State University with a major in chemistry which will position her for graduate work in med school or biomedical engineering. So far, only her roommates know that she was on the 2015 Royal Court. “They say, oh, you’re a beauty queen,” she said. “I have to explain.”
There is more to garnering a spot on the Rose Parade Royal Court than looks. Personality, academic success, and involvement in the community or school enter into the selection process. The women, most age 17 and seniors in high school, make 100 appearances from October through January. They must be comfortable in a variety of situations, from entertaining ailing children in pediatrics wards to conversing with senior citizens. They must be quick studies, because they will be asked many questions and need to know how to respond. Public speaking is also a large part of the job.
Asked if serving on the Royal Court had helped, her, Princess Emily responded enthusiastically, “Oh my gosh, yes! It’s been the best experience of my life so far. I enjoyed getting close to the six sisters I gained.” She said the preparation she got helped her to be comfortable talking to people and in the college interview process and gave her confidence. “I feel I can talk to anyone.”
Though attending so many events was hectic, she said she enjoyed them. She mentioned the Halloween visit to Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. The princesses dressed as animals—she was a panda—and met the children in pediatrics. “That’s probably why I enjoy hospital visits so much,” she said, adding that being the Royal Court “is the most incredible thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Readers are encouraged to post questions or comments at All Things Rose Parade.
15 seconds of fame
Each candidate for the Tournament of Roses Royal Court has 15 seconds to state why she wants to serve on the Court. The men and women behind the table are members of the Queen and Court Committee, which chooses the young women who will serve. They and their spouses accompany the women to events and guide them in their new role.
Hundreds of applicants, 7 princesses
From the 700 to 1,000 young ladies who line up for a chance to take a turn in front of the judges, the Queen and Court committee will choose seven to represent the Tournament of Roses. One of those seven will be crowed Rose Queen in late October.
Kelsey and Paris, Flintridge Prep
“I’ve grown up watching the parade,” Kelsey (on left in the photo) shared. The has also attended the Rose Bowl game for the past few years. “It’s something we’ve always done as a family. There are a lot of memories.”
Paris said that much of her family visits from New England to watch the parade. When the Royal Court float passed by, she said, “They would say, ‘That’s going to be you someday.’” She said that speaking with atombash.com was good preparation for standing before the judges. Kelsey added that she had practiced her speech in front of the mirror.
The writer first saw the two girls coming up the sidewalk and noted that they both wore blue dresses. They hadn’t planned it that way. Kelsey said, “I was just at the store and fell in love with this color.” Paris noted, “We were told to wear something your grandmother would be proud to see you on television wearing.” She added a bit of panache with pink Converse sneakers.
Karena, Temple City High School and Krystal, Pasadena High School
Though Karena (at left) and Krystal just met at the tryouts, they discovered they have a mutual friend and that they both play water polo. “It’s a small world,” Karena commented. Because of the clubs she is in, she has made friends in cities throughout the west San Gabriel Valley. She was trying out to serve as a role model to younger family members. She said, “I have three little nieces at home and I want to show them it doesn’t matter what size you are. I’m on the short side.”
Krystal shared, “Growing up I didn’t have the best life—everyone has their hardships.” She believes many girls did not show up for tryouts because they didn’t think they would make it. “I want to show them,” she said.
Diana, Angela, Nathalie, Maria and Shivani
Shivani (on right), who attends Temple City High School, just met Diana, Angela, Nathalie and Maria, all from Marshall Fundamental High School, in the lineup. “I’ve wanted to be on the court since I was little,” Shivani said. She used to visit the Royal Court every year because her mother worked for Kaiser. “I saw the way they helped people. I want to do the same.”
Diana, at left, said “I really love the community service they do. Mom gave me a particular name and, the name of a princess, and I want to live up to it.” She participates in Associated Student Body and Puente and is a docent at Pasadena Humane Society.
Angela, second from left, and her twin sister Maria, second from right, participate in many of the same activities. They volunteer at Huntington Memorial Hospital and help the poor at Dolores Mission in Boyle Heights on the third Sunday of the month. Angela said, “I want to represent Pasadena because I know Pasadena helps their community.” Maria echoed the sentiment. “I came here because I really want to help the community to be a better place.”
For Nathalie, the challenge is important. “This isn’t really my comfort zone, talking in front of people,” she said. “I want to get out of my comfort zone.” She would like to become a counselor in a college setting.
Jocelyn, Marshall Fundamental High School and Dajah, Blair High School
Jocelyn and Dajah are both active in the City of Pasadena’s Ambassador Youth Program and held Ideal Youth internships. They were also pulled aside to do a quick interview on KTLA television after speaking with Examiner.
Jocelyn, left, said, “Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be a princess, and now I have the opportunity. I want to experience it and see how the Royal Court works.” She is in Puente and Unidos, student programs that assist with community events as well as helping students progress academically. She plays varsity basketball and ran cross country in the past. She volunteers in the community through tutoring and food programs and at the library. She holds an internship in a veterinary hospital.
Dajah said, “I’m trying out because I always wanted to be a princess, ever since I was young, and I also think I have the qualities to represent Pasadena.” She participates in varsity basketball and track and Future Problem Solvers and serves on the Associated Student Body ASB commission of activities and assemblies.
Princesses Emily Stoker and Gabrielle Current
Rose Princesses Emily (left) and Gabrielle served on the Royal Court for the 2015 Rose Parade. One of the duties of members of the Royal Court is to orient the girls who are trying out for the next Royal Court. They are able to give them some quick advice on speaking to the media and talk about what it means to be a Rose Princess, both what one gains and the sacrifices one makes to carry out her duties. When they were chosen for the Court in October, 2014, Princess Emily was attending Temple City High School and Princess Gabrielle was attending Sacred Heart Academy and studying voice at Colburn School.
Escorted like a princess
Each girl is pinned with a number in the order she registers. She is only known by number until the 35 finalists are announced in early October. This young lady has just completed her round with the Queen and Court Committee and is being escorted to Tournament House by a White Suiter (Tournament of Roses volunteer). The applicants are given tours of the mansion and posters to take home.