La Cañada High School’s Rucha Kadam gasped and Flintridge Prep’s Helen Rossi began to cry after they were announced as the last two members of the 2019 Tournament of Roses Royal Court.
The excitement of the moment could still be seen on their faces as they joined the other five members of the court on a stage at the Tournament House in Pasadena on Monday and local television stations and newspapers interviewed them.
“It’s such an honor to be here,” said Kadam, standing next to the other teenagers who had been chosen from among 44 finalists.
Added Rossi: “I’m so excited to represent my community.”
The other five members of the 2019 court are Sherry Ma of San Marino High School, Louise Siskel of Sequoyah High School, Ashley Hackett of John Muir High School, and Lauren Baydaline and Micaela McElrath of Westridge School.
Royal Court members attend nearly 100 community and media functions and serve as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses. They’ll ride on a float in the 130th Rose Parade and attend the 105th Rose Bowl game on Jan. 1.
The announcement and coronation of the 101st Rose Queen and presentation of the 2019 Royal Court is on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Kadam and Rossi, both 17, are seniors at their respective schools and live in La Cañada Flintridge.
“Being on Royal Court is an accomplishment in itself,” LCHS Principal Ian McFeat, who was present at the announcement in Pasadena, said of Kadam. “Whatever happens from here is icing on the cake.
“She’s somebody who is about bringing people together and positivity. That’s what this theme for the Rose Court is all about,” added McFeat, referring to a comment by Tournament President Gerald Freeny remarking about the Rose tradition’s spirit of community. “She’s a great candidate for that. I’m excited for her.”
Kadam also is a member of the 2018 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court, plays for the LCHS girls’ varsity soccer team, participates in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Space Academy, serves as treasurer of the school’s Associated Student Body and is a La Cañada Unified School District technology and computer science intern.
She’s happy to represent LCF on the court.
“I think La Cañada has amazing people,” Kadam said. “It’s really unique to have such a supportive community.”
Kadam is the daughter of Shailesh Kadam and Vaishali Bhosale and has one brother, Ahan.
“We’re very, very excited. We couldn’t believe this is happening,” said Vaishali Bhosale, who added that when she and her husband moved to the area from the East Coast in 2009 they first watched the Rose Parade when their daughter was in the third grade. “We had not seen that type of thing. And we had traveled the world. … It’s so silly but I have goose bumps. It’s so exciting she’ll be on the court.”
Father Shailesh Kadam said for him it was a “crazy feeling” as he would soon have to introduce her at future events. “I’m so proud that I have to do that.”
Flintridge Prep’s Rossi believes, like Kadam, that growing up in La Cañada has helped in her life’s travels.
“I think La Cañada is such a tight-knit community,” Rossi said. “Everyone knows each other.”
Rossi is a member of Prep’s Diversity Club, the Cooking Club and Flint Leadership Club and is a Flintridge Prep senior leader. She’s also an Arthritis Foundation 2018 youth honoree and an intern for the foundation and a senior Girl Scout in Troop 7331, and has participated in other community activities.
“We are thrilled for Helen Rossi,” said Flintridge Prep Headmaster Peter Bachmann in a phone interview. “She’s a wonderful person. She’s an honor student. She’s an extremely hard worker. She has incredibly supportive parents. She is very popular and a loyal friend. She’s, I think, going to represent Flintridge Prep on the court with great distinction and great grace. We want to support her in every possible way.”
Her parents, Philip and Susan Rossi, were at the event on Monday.
“She’s a great kid,” said Philip Rossi. “And she loved the [Rose Bowl] Parade since she was little. Her mom was talking about propping her up as a baby. [Helen] used to wave back at the TV.”
Susan Rossi said that in 2005 her daughter attended the parade and wore a poncho because it poured rain. The mother was worried about Helen wanting to go home.
“She said, ‘Oh no, no, no,’” Susan Rossi remembered. “She was mesmerized. She would not leave.”