Franklin High senior named Portland Rose Festival Queen

Here’s your opportunity to catch a last glimpse of East Portland’s 2011 Portland Rose Festival Princesses – and meet the 2011 Queen of Rosaria …

2011 Portland Rose Festival Princesses, hailing from schools from all over the Portland metropolitan area, await their turn in the spotlight as they’re individually introduced in at the Queen’s Coronation Ceremony in Memorial Coliseum.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Everything in the Portland Rose Festival leads up to the Queen’s Coronation, followed by the Grand Floral Parade.

And, for the young ladies – the Portland Rose Festival Princesses – the tension mounts in the dressing room at Memorial Coliseum as they arrive at the early hour of 7:00 a.m., and begin to get ready for the Queen’s Coronation at 8:30 a.m.

As Franklin High senior Lamarra Haynes walks into Memorial Coliseum, as do the other princesses, she wonders if she’ll be riding out a Portland Rose Festival Queen.

The princesses came out individually as announcers introduced them, and told which school they represented. They then were each asked to tell about their Portland Rose Festival experiences.

Princess Taylor Ballard, representing Parkrose High School, walks to the center of Memorial Coliseum.

Parkrose High School’s Taylor Ballard recalled their visit to the Oregon Coast. “In Tillamook, we visited the famous cheese factory, which is really great.  The most exciting part of the day was visiting the Astoria Regatta. It is their bicentennial year; we got to go all over town, meet their [ambassador] court, and celebrate with the people there.”

J’Reyesha Brannon, from Cleveland High School, talks about her Rose Festival experience.

Cleveland High School’s J’Reyesha Brannon said that providing community service was most memorable to her. “One of my favorite trips was to the Portland Police Bureau’s Sunshine Division, where we helped pack food.  It was fun working together, and doing something to help people have food that they otherwise would not have.”

Cassandra Hamann, from David Douglas High School, says she enjoyed traveling with the other princesses.

David Douglas High School’s Cassandra Hamann told the crowd in the Coliseum, “What was most memorable for me was going to the Pendleton Roundup, and meeting the Pendleton Roundup Court. We got to ride horses and do some roping. It was a lot of fun.”

Uma Abdullahi, from Madison High School, confides that she enjoyed the thrill rides at the festival’s CityFair.

“My favorite part of the Rose Festival so far,” said Madison High School’s Uma Abdullahi, “Was visiting the waterfront CityFair. We are all ‘adrenaline junkies’, and really enjoyed riding Vertigo. It went so high, we were able to wave to people on the Morrison Bridge. It was raining, but the next minute, we had sunshine, and it was like summer.”

Lamarra Haynes, from Franklin High School, says she loved being in parades.

“I’ve already had dozens of great experiences,” exclaimed Franklin High School’s Lamarra Haynes. “The Starlight Parade was a very special experience for me. I actually lost my voice from calling out to the people along the route. The next day my friends helped me out by saying, ‘Lamarra says hi; she has no voice’. I think it’s just really great.”

Princess Nadia Martinez, the last Princess ever from Marshall High School, says she feels honored to be her school’s final representative to the Portland Rose Festival.

Finally, Marshall High School’s Nadia Martinez spoke. “I can’t really describe the feelings that I have to be representing my school; it’s such a great honor. I appreciate the support of my students and my principal. I really like how the Rose Festival brings communities together.”

Then, it was time to open the sealed envelope and disclose the identity of the 2011 Queen of Rosaria.

Overcome by emotion from hearing her name announced, Franklin High School’s Lamarra Haynes learns she is the 2011 Portland Rose Festival’s Queen of Rosaria.

As Queen Lamarra is crowned, her bright smile returns.

When the big announcement was made, it was 2011 Rose Festival Princess #12 from Franklin High School – 17-year-old Lamarra Haynes – who was selected to reign over the “Kingdom of Rosaria” for the next year.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams, on bended knee, presents a special gift to Queen Lamarra.

Queen Lamarra holds her first press conference with the media.

Immediately after her coronation, Queen Lamarra spoke with reporters before the start of the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

“I am a million times excited right now,” she began, adding that she really didn’t expect to hear her name called. “I knew any one of us would be great. I was surprised to hear my name was called. I really was.”

Queen Lamarra poses for her first formal portrait.

Although she said she kept telling herself not to cry, she said she couldn’t help shedding some tears before regaining her composure.

About her road from being princess to Queen, Lamarra said, “I’ve definitely grown as a person. We go to places where you smile and interact; this has never been easy for me. My dad always works with me on smiling, as have our chaperones. So, I’ve been learning to smile as I talk.”

Craig Haynes, Queen Lamarra’s father, surprises and delights her with a congratulatory kiss on the cheek.

Queen Lamarra than explained the personal meaning this new role has for her. “It means that I can offer something to the City that is now mine. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but I’ve lived in the City of Portland nine years. The City is taught me how to accept all different kinds of people, and to accept myself.

“In that acceptance, I see somebody walking down the street in cutoff shorts and think that’s cool, you’re doing what you need to do; that’s fine.  I’ve really learned to accept other people and myself here in Portland.”

Flanked by her mother Nhuto Haynes and father Craig Haynes, newly-crowned Queen Lamarra poses with her family.

About the Rose Festival Princess program being more than just a pageant, she said, “It’s a bunch of very smart girls coming together. We all share our high school experiences; at this time of life, it’s kind of an awkward stage. We are all seniors enrolled in college next year. We will be leaving and pursuing different walks of life next year.

“But this is a great time we have together and with our families, and it has been a big growing experience.”

Queen Lamarra plans to attend a four-year university with a major in criminal justice and a minor in visual art.

Waving to her subjects, as she rides in the 2011 Portland Rose Festival Parade, is Queen Lamarra Haynes.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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