First published in the Oct. 6 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
Excited chatter permeated the dew-tipped morning on Monday as the Pasadena Tournament of Roses selected seven young women for its 2023 Royal Court, including one La Cañada Flintridge senior who will serve as an ambassador through about 100 public appearances filled with pomp and splendor.
The lucky group includes Uma Wittenberg of LCHS, Adrian Crick of Sequoyah High School, Zoe Denoncourt of John Marshall Fundamental, Salia Baligh of Alverno Heights Academy, Bella Ballard of the Ogburn Online School, Michelle Cortez-Peralta of Pasadena High School and Sahanna Rajinikanthan of Arcadia High School.
Members of the 2023 Royal Court were welcomed into the time-honored fold amid celebratory whoops and cheers from dozens of family and friends gathered on the lawn of the Tournament House.
“We are confident that they will meet every moment, rise to every challenge, and turn every corner with strength, confidence, resilience and grace,” said 2023 Tournament of Roses President Amy Wainscott before announcing the final seven.
This year, the young women were chosen from 28 finalists to represent Tournament of Roses, the Pasadena community and the Greater Los Angeles. The 2023 Royal Court’s grand finale will be riding on a float in the 134th Rose Parade and attending the 109th Rose Bowl game on Monday, Jan. 2. The Tournament has pledged to never hold a parade or game on a Sunday.
As Wittenberg’s name was called Monday, she delicately descended the Tournament House’s tiered staircase to receive her deep-red rose bouquet.
Grinning proudly next to her Royal Court co-members, Wittenberg admitted she was battling her nerves.
“I was shaking when they called my name,” she said. “I’m still feeling shocked right now, I just can’t believe I’m on the court.”
Wittencourt was a finalist selected among applicants from 30 Pasadena-area schools which participated in the interview process. Volunteer members of the Tournament of Roses’ Queen and Court Committee selected the Royal Court based on several criteria, including public speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership, and community and school involvement.
Wittenberg, who is also a princess on the 2022 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court, said being part of the Tournament of Roses has been a childhood dream.
“When I was little I really looked up to the Rose Court and I would look for them at every Rose Parade, so I am really looking forward to being that for younger girls and just trying to be a role model,” she said.
Her mother, Vanessa Wittenberg, stood proudly near the stage.
“Although we’ve been super excited, we also tried to be cautious. … but I think all these girls deserve it,” she said. “Uma worked really hard. I’m so happy, this is one of her dreams and I’m so excited for her.”
Apart from being on the Miss LCF Royal Court, Wittenberg is also a member of the Les Fleurettes Debutante program, senior class treasurer, member of the Teens Advancement for Children’s Hospital (TACH) Club, member of the theater program, member of the California Scholarship Federation and Nation Honors Society.
Royal Court members will each receive a $7,500 educational scholarship. The announcement and coronation of the 104th Rose Queen and presentation of the 2023 Royal Court will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 25.