First published in the Dec. 30 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
As part of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses 2022 Royal Court, Princesses Jaeda Walden and McKenzie Street have enjoyed a whirlwind few months that has included attending more than 100 public engagement events and meeting people of all ages and walks of life.
A La Cañada Flintridge resident and La Cañada High School senior, Walden said she has especially enjoyed visiting hospitals and retirement homes, making patients and residents smile over the holiday season and bringing something new to their day. It’s even helped her solidify what she wants to study in college — psychology.
“It has been really fun, even though we’ve been so busy, we’ve had such a wonderful time,” said Walden. “I really enjoy visiting the hospitals, and the USC [Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center] was such an incredible visit — not only did I learn so much about what cancer patients have to go through, but also the advancements they are making in cancer care. I really enjoy the visits where it feels like we’re making an impact in people’s lives, making them feel better.”
Along with her Royal Court duties, Walden plays varsity volleyball for her school and is a member of the Happiness Club, Ocean Buddies Club, Key Club and Operation Smile. When she has time for hobbies, she enjoys ceramics, live music, travel, outdoors, beach volleyball, painting, drawing and thrifting. She is daughter to Ron and Lindsay Walden, and has a sister, Luthfia.
Perhaps practice makes perfect, but Walden said the sheer number of public speaking opportunities has crafted her confidence.
“I feel like we’ve all experienced a transformation since becoming a part of the Royal Court; maybe it was partly through our media and speech training, but I think we’ve all become so much more confident in life,” Walden said. “I can see it in myself and I definitely see it in the other girls.”
That also rings true for Street, a senior at Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy who lives in Pasadena. The Royal Court experience has given her a stronger sense of self, she said, and made her more determined than ever that her future will entail working with students and young people.
“An important aspect of this for me has been the community outreach, especially to disadvantaged communities, and meeting all the young kids across schools, which I find really inspiring,” Street said. “I love speaking with young people and encouraging them to someday try out for the court, and encourage ways to give back to the Pasadena community. Part of the theme is ‘Dream,’ so we encourage kids to dream big and set goals to make those dreams true.”
Street is a member of the Tech Team, Girls Who Code Club, Academic Decathlon, Mass and Retreat Leader on the Campus Ministry Team and the founder and lead of her school’s Fashion Club. Street enjoys fashion, playing piano, environmental activism and social justice. She plans to study communications and media while minoring or double majoring in computer science. She is the daughter of Robin and Tamera Street and has a brother, Tyler.
Going forward, Street plans on continuing her efforts to teach computer science to children from underrepresented and underexposed communities. Representation has been another important aspect for Street in going out to meet younger girls.
The 2022 Rose Court has been one of the most diverse, she noted, with a majority of members being women of color, and at least three members speaking languages other than English fluently. Both Walden and Street recalled the moment they met 2015 Royal Court Queen Madison Triplett, who is Black, when they were young and impressionable, and which also planted the seed for both girls to apply to the Tournament’s process this past year.
“I remember meeting Queen Madison and it was inspiring for sure. To have people on the court who look like you, who resemble you, that is meaningful,” said Street, as Walden concurred, interjecting: “Representation matters.”
Walden continued, “We can be role models to other girls of color. It’s important to us to wear our natural hair and show the confidence and beauty in that and encourage them to know someday they can be a part of this too.”
Until Saturday, Jan. 1, the girls are resting and keeping COVID safety protocols in check, they noted, prepping for when the 2022 Royal Court and Queen will ride down Colorado Boulevard on the court’s float in the 133rd Rose Parade and attend the 108th Rose Bowl Game.
“When we saw the empty stands go up that was really a moment we could start to visualize the big day, but imagining them full of people is incredible to me,” said Walden, with Street adding, “I can’t wait!”