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1,000 hopeful faces, but only 1 crown

Tournament of Roses kicks off the season with preliminary tryouts for Rose Queen and Court.

September 20, 2010|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
(Raul Roa/Valley…)

With brightly scrubbed faces and carefully coiffed hair, hundreds of young women crowded the walkways at the Tournament of Roses House on Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena on Saturday for preliminary tryouts for Rose Queen and Court.

>> Click here to see an audio slideshow

Jan. 1, 2011 will mark the 93rd Rose Court, a tradition punctuated by appearances at the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, and, of course, lots and lots of glamour. Competing for one of the seven coveted spots has become a right of passage for San Gabriel area women, most of whom grow up admiring court members as they gracefully make their way down Colorado Boulevard each New Year's Day each year.

"The girls on the float get to feel special, you get treated like royalty," said a candidate wearing the identifying tag, #124.

To be eligible, candidates must be at least 17 years old by Dec. 31 and not older than 21 before Jan. 3, 2011. And they must be seniors in high school or enrolled as full-time students in an accredited school or college in the trustee area of Pasadena Community College or the trial annex area in Eagle Rock/Highland Park.

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Saturday was the first in a four-phase audition process that will culminate with the announcement of the Court on Oct. 11 and Rose Queen on Oct. 19. Each candidate was given 15 seconds to introduce herself (by candidate number only) to a 10-member judging panel, and then was escorted away for a tour of the Tournament House.

"We are looking for what we say is the ABC's, which is articulate, bright and charming," said Ed Afsharian, a La Cañada resident and chairman of the Queen and Court Committee. "We are looking for poised young ladies that are personable, outgoing, intelligent, have speaking ability. It is hard to do that in 15 seconds but that is what we try and do."

The more than 1,000 hopefuls will be whittled down to a pool of 250 women, who will be notified by mail in the coming days.

The excitement was palpable as the candidates pinned on their numbers and anxiously took their place in line. Some reviewed what they were going to say to the judges, while others sized up the competition.

"I am hoping that I make it far," said candidate #315. "I am not extremely confident at the moment because there are a lot of pretty girls around."

Tournament members and past Court members chatted with the young women as they waited, trying to assuage fears by answering questions and sharing favorite memories.

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