The story of the Queen of the Tournament of Roses is one of passing the torch, and yet remaining a torchbearer. A young woman wears the crown for only a year, but she retains the title for life. She is a member of one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, consisting of fewer than a hundred women in history.
At October’s coronation of the 96th Rose Queen, Ana Acosta, we were fortunate to talk to the oldest living Rose Queen, Margaret Huntley Main, and the young woman who was Queen until 7 p.m. that evening, Vanessa Manjarrez. Main presided over the 1940 Rose Parade and Manjarrez over the 2013 parade.
In 1949, Main founded the Queens Club with 1941 Rose Queen Sally Stanton Rubsamen, that, for the first time, brought together as many former queens as could be located and attend. For the centennial of the Rose Parade, she wrote A Rose Queen Is Forever, a history of the Quuen and Court that is chock full of quotes from former queens.
“I enjoyed so much writing it,” she told Examiner. “I worked hard on it.” That work is evident in the many quotes that she had to gather in the days before email and Facebook—all by the postal service or phone calls. She said the “girls” told her things they wouldn’t tell anyone else, because they knew she would protect their anonymity.
Main, 92 and Manjarrez, 18 were discussing their own coronations when we caught up with them. They had only known each other a year since they met at Queen Vanessa’s coronation, but there was an easy comfort between them, as between a revered mentor and beloved pupil. Or between sisters, which, according to Main’s book and confirmed by Manjarrez, is how many of the former queens feel about each other.
The two have gone to lunch together and meet at Queens-only events throughout the year. Former queens offer support to each other and the new queen, which Manjarrez said helped her in her role and life. “It’s opened lots of doors,” she shared. Since former queens work all over the country, they share internships and other opportunites.
Currently, Manjarrez is a freshman at Middlebury College. We asked her how she liked Vermont. “I love Vermont! It’s totally different from Pasadena,” she said. “I love having seasons.” (Interesting tidbit for Harry Potter fans: Middlebury College was the first to develop a muggle-friendly game of quidditch. We neglected to ask Queen Vanessa if she played.)
Asked what she thought of the newest member of the sisterhood, Queen Ana, Main replied, “She’s a darling.”
The theme of the 125th Rose Parade and 100th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2014 is “Dreams Come True.” The Tournament of Roses is a celebration that lasts several weeks in the fall and winter. Like All Things Rose Parade on Facebook or subscribe to Tournament of Roses Examiner by clicking the "Subscribe" link for the latest news and for upcoming announcements. I am not notified of comments via Disqus, so if you have a question or would like a reply to your comment, please post on Facebook or email me at email@example.com