Strawberry Festival crowns Royalty

From left, Marysville Strawberry Festival Senior Royalty Prince Derek Groves, Princess Franqui Rojas, Queen Madison Doty and Prince Israel Lopez are all smiles after their crowning on March 23. - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Marysville Strawberry Festival Senior Royalty Prince Derek Groves, Princess Franqui Rojas, Queen Madison Doty and Prince Israel Lopez are all smiles after their crowning on March 23.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The Marysville Strawberry Festival saw a few firsts during its crowning ceremony for this year’s court on March 23.

While this year’s Strawberry Festival can’t claim to have the first four-member Senior Royalty Court, it is the first with two Senior Princes, as well as the first to have a tie between two of the candidates.

According to Strawberry Festival officials, the tie was due to an honest tabulation error which resulted in Queen Madison Doty and Princes Derek Groves and Israel Lopez being joined by Princess Franqui Rojas after the official crowning ceremony in the Marysville-Pilchuck High School auditorium.

Strawberry Festival Royalty Crowning Ceremony Master of Ceremonies Jim Ballew explained before the crowning that each King or Queen would receive a $5,000 scholarship, while each Senior Prince or Princess would receive $3,500, and each Junior Prince or Princess would receive $150.

“That’s exactly $12,950 in scholarships,” Ballew said. “That’s a lot more than the wage of your average summer job, so you can bet they’ll work that much harder to promote the Marysville community.”

Erika Krause, Criscia “CC” Rinaldi and Cassandra Kunselman were crowned this year’s Junior Royalty Princesses, while this year’s Bob Klepper Memorial Congeniality Scholarship was a three-way tie between Doty, Kalyah Bojang and Forrest Brown.

Rojas, who wore business attire for the “casual clothes” modeling portion of the show because it makes her feel more confident, described herself as grateful simply to be alive, because her parents had been told that their daughter might not even manage to be born.

“It’s the difficult moments that we learn from,” said Rojas, a junior in the Marysville Getchell School for the Entrepreneur. “Like photographs, we develop from negatives.”

Lopez elicited cheers with two distinctive outfits that evening, first by wearing mariachi band attire to fit the Royalty candidates’ speech theme of “fiesta,” then by doffing layers of an athletic ensemble intended to serve as a metaphor for the layers of his personality, which concluded with him ripping off breakaway pants to reveal white jeans underneath.

“The Strawberry Festival began to celebrate our virtues and values as a community,” said Lopez, a senior at M-PHS. “Our light is meant to shine, because our presence liberates others.”

Groves’ casually styled ensemble included a cardigan, combat boots and a guitar, to showcase his eclectic artistic side, and like many of his fellow candidates, he drew a common thread between the Strawberry Festival and its theme of “fiesta” this year by describing both as opportunities to bond with loved ones in the midst of joyous occasions.

“What’s the point of life if you’re not having a good time?” asked Groves, a senior in the Marysville Getchell School for the Entrepreneur. “Are you going to want to remember doing homework and studying for tests, or birthdays and other parties? Those are the glorious moments that will stay with you for the rest of your life.”

Doty donned gear best suited for water sports at Lake Goodwin, which she deemed a personal oasis, and reflected on what she learned from attending the actual fiesta of her friend’s quinceañera.

“For a while, I stayed seated instead of participating,” said Doty, a junior at M-PHS, who did eventually get up to dance during her friend’s 15th birthday celebration. “The choice to join the dance is a metaphor for life.You can taste the new, or let life pass you by.”


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