First published in the Oct. 29 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.
The Pasadena Tournament of Roses made a most welcome return to tradition on Tuesday night, crowning 103rd Rose Queen Nadia Chung and revealing an elated court of young women — including a city resident — full of grace and camaraderie.
Taking the stage with the 2022 Royal Court at the coronation ceremony, Ava Feldman of South Pasadena beamed in the spotlight and showed off the public speaking skills she has further honed in the three weeks since being named a princess on the court.
The ceremony was held on the iconic Tournament house’s expansive lawn with a smaller crowd than in previous years, a nod to the ongoing precautions against the spread of COVID-19. The Tournament’s court announcement, along with the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game, was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“This process has been amazing,” South Pasadena High School student Feldman said after the ceremony, while still glowing from the excitement. “Getting to know all of these girls has been so wonderful — they have such great dreams and have fantastic abilities, they are all just amazing people.”
During an interview with event host Lynette Romero of the KTLA 5 Morning News, the seven young women reflected on the intensive weeks leading up to the coronation. All told, they will attend about 100 events, often missing classes while still keeping up with schoolwork and college applications.
Feldman pointedly thanked the South Pasadena community and her friends.
“I’ve definitely leaned on the support system that I’ve created over the years. My friends are amazing — they’ve taken on roles that I’ve had to resign from, or they’ve been there on FaceTime when I need help with my homework, or reviewing essays, all of that,” she said, noting how easy becoming fast friends with the Royal Court members has been. “We all help each other with classes that we’ve taken before or if we need to review essays or anything like that. We are all there for each other, so it’s been a great time.”
The ceremony followed a monthlong selection process, with students from 24 Pasadena-area schools participating in interviews. Selection to the court is based on a combination of qualities, including public speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership, and community and school involvement.
Feldman shone as her yearbook editor-in-chief, senior presentation representative of National Charity League, vice president of the Teaching and Sharing Skills to Enrich Lives club and co-captain of the SPHS varsity girls’ tennis team, among other activities.
After her family waited in the wings, Feldman embraced her parents and sister on stage and photos were taken. Mom Christine Feldman proudly praised her daughter for undergoing the journey, saying she’d encouraged her to apply for the court from the beginning.
“I told her initially she should do it, if only just for the interview process and experience, but I knew that if she were selected she would be a great court member. She’s so good with people and public speaking I thought she would be a great representative,” she said.
For the next few months, Ava Feldman, the court and queen will serve as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses, the Pasadena community and the Greater Pasadena area. Court members experience numerous benefits: becoming part of an organization dedicated to hands-on volunteerism, discovering opportunities to connect with and give back to the local community, developing public speaking skills and growing self-confidence.
The 2022 Royal Court will ride down Colorado Boulevard on the court’s float in the 133rd Rose Parade and attend the 108th Rose Bowl Game, both on Saturday, Jan. 1.