In Pasadena on Monday, seven Rose princesses — including two from La Cañada High School — and 30 other finalists were celebrated for their goodness, just hours after horror transpired in Las Vegas.
“These young women have shown they believe in the power of kindness, of selfless service, and now they stand ready to make an even greater difference,” said Dave Link, chair of the Tournament of Roses Royal Queen and Court Committee, with a nod this this year’s Rose Parade theme, “Making a Difference.”
“We’re all reading the news about the tragedy in Las Vegas, the senseless deaths,” Link continued, asking his audience to contribute funds or blood to help victims in the nation’s deadliest shooting. “It seems odd having a celebration in the wake of that news, but we have 37 young ladies who have looked forward to this for a very long time and who have worked hard for the past few months. It doesn’t seem right not to celebrate.”
And so, after a moment of silence, the celebration went on.
Seven deserving young women were anointed Tournament of Roses royalty, including LCHS seniors Georgia Cervenka and Julianne Lauenstein. They will join Flintridge Sacred Heart High School’s Alexandra Artura, Arcadia High School’s Lauren Buehner and Grace Pickering, La Salle High School’s Isabella Marez and Pasadena High School’s Savannah Bradley.
One of them will be crowned the 100th Rose Queen on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at a ceremony at the Pasadena Playhouse.
“This is crazy!” said Lauenstein, who also was selected to represent La Cañada Flintridge as a member of the Miss LCF Royal Court. “I never imagined I would actually make it, so I’m just so thankful.”
“Oh my gosh, it’s honestly unreal!” Cervenka said. “Hearing my number called was just crazy.”
Cervenka was motivated in part by her mother, Kerry, who in 1978 was a finalist for the court. On Monday, Kerry clasped the badge she wore as a 16-year-old, when she stood nervously on the steps in front of the Tournament House. Her number, 692, wasn’t too far off from Georgia’s, 672.
“I told her to just enjoy the process,” Kerry Cervenka said. “And it’s been amazing, it really was made for her, and we let her do it on her own, no pressure on her.”
Lauenstein said she was inspired by her grandmother, Donna Wright, to join the 1,000 or so other locals who applied to participate in the process.
“I’m the only girl in my family of all boys, and my grandma always wanted me to try out,” Lauenstein said. “So this is a big deal.”
Yes it is, said a beaming Wright, who rode in the parade in 1956, as Valley Junior College’s homecoming queen, in a float she helped decorate.
“I always said, ‘You live in La Cañada, you need to become a princess!’” Wright said. “But she’s kind of quiet and shy and she says, ‘Oh, no, I don’t think so.’ And then she announced she already filled out the application and she didn’t even tell me! So it was a big surprise for me.”
The process included four rounds of interviews, during which the Tournament of Roses Queen and Court Committee evaluated the candidates for their poise, speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership and community and school involvement.
Cervenka made an impression with her position as vice president of the Best Buddies club, as the fact that she’s a member of the LCF Youth Council and the LCHS Concert Choir. She’s also been involved in Girl Scouts and National Charity League and is captain of the Spartans girls’ basketball team.
In addition to her role as an ambassador for LCF, Lauenstein also participates in the LCHS French Club, serves as a volunteer at Huntington Memorial Hospital and has dedicated herself to dance for the past 13 years.
The Tournament of Roses Royal Court members will attend dozens of community and media functions before riding on a float in the 129th Rose Parade and attending the Rose Bowl Game on New Year’s Day.
“We are extremely proud of our Royal Court and what they have meant to our community,” Link said. “Whether those communities may be scouts, teams, schools, churches, philanthropic organizations and many, many others, they are involved. I am thrilled to have the honor of introducing the next set of young women to continue that standard of excellence.”