Portland, OR. Lincoln High school senior Anya Anand was elected 2020 Queen of Rosaria on July 30th, Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a special, socially-distanced Queen’s Coronation was held at the Queen’s Walk in the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park.
Traditionally, the Queen’s Coronation is an event that gathers a large ensemble of community volunteers who determine the year’s Queen; however, under this year’s unique circumstances, in the interest of keeping the event small, the Rose Festival had the Rose Princess’s vote to elect one of their peers to the Queendom—making it the just second time in the Rose Festival’s 112-year history that the Court elected their own Queen.
Asked what it was like to be the first Queen elected by the court since 1930, Anand said, “It’s an incredible experience […] it just means a lot that so many of my fellow Rose Court sisters believe in me so much and gave me the honor of being Queen.”
As Queen, Anand is awarded a college scholarship provided by the Randall Group. Anand plans to attend the University of California at Davis to study psychology; from there, she plans to attend medical school to become a pediatrician. According to a press release, “[Anand] was very active at Lincoln: as a volunteer Co-President of the Associated Student Body and Asian Student Union, as well as Co-Chair of the Multnomah Youth Commission Committee. [Anand] has been passionate about education from an early age and is president of REAL (or Rural Education and Literacy), in India.”
Many who attended the event socially distanced themselves and wore masks, including the Princess’s and the Royal Rosarians, who wore intricate red masks as a part of their traditional Rose Festival garb.
Speaking of some of the differences of this year’s Rose Festival, Anand said, “First of all, I know half of the Princesses didn’t get their in-person announcement. Some of them were announced over Zoom, and we all met for the first time over Zoom.”
Anand said meeting the other Princesses in person for the first time was her favorite moments of the season so far, ”It was such a different experience to meet them in person because you could feel all of the energy—and you can feel it over Zoom, but it’s a totally different feeling when you’re all together: you’re all looking at each other’s outfits, dressing up, getting ready together. I love all of these women with my entire heart.”
Many at the event spoke of the inspirational resilience of this year’s Court, and commended their fortitude in the face of many obstacles that made this year’s Rose Festival one of the most unique in its extensive history.
“The inspiration that is this Court and Queen Mya [2019 Rose Festival Queen] is a lesson to us all,” said Royal Rosarian Prime Minister Kimberly Brown, “their optimism and resilience and attitude has been so mature. It’s been inspiring to watch them overcome those hurdles that came up.”
At the laying of the Queen’s plaque along the Queen’s Walk, Anand had each of the Rose Princesses press their thumbs into the cement surrounding the plaque, a tradition started by 2019’s Queen Mya Brazile.
“Just like Queen Mya did last year, I would like to invite my Rose sisters to place their thumbs in my plaque, because we did this together,” Anand said, “this year has been very tough, but we all made it together, and I love you all and I would love to share this moment with all of you.”
In the end, despite the hurdles of the pandemic, the official Rose Festival crown—worn by every Queen since 1922—was ceremoniously placed upon Anand’s head.
“I’m looking forward to representing my city and the Rose Festival,” Anand said, “I think it’s really important, especially because the Rose Festival has been around for so many years, and it’s another way to instill that tradition and sense of normalcy in such a changing and evolving time.”
About the Rose Festival Court:
“The mission of the Rose Festival Court program presented by Unitus Community Credit Union, is to provide scholarships courtesy The Randall Group for higher education, to promote community outreach and volunteerism, and to offer networking and mentoring opportunities to outstanding young women in a program that perpetuates an appreciation for Rose Festival history and tradition.”
About the Rose Festival:
Part of Portland’s popular culture for more than a century, the Rose Festival has its roots in tradition while its programming is both contemporary and nostalgic. Foresighted city leaders started the festival during the first decade of the 20th Century in order to put Portland on the map and brand it the ‘summer capital of the world.’ Little did they know that more than a hundred summers later the Rose Festival would be world famous for its amazing, award-winning events, as well as serving as a community leader for celebrating values like volunteerism, patriotism and environmentalism. In 2010, the Rose Festival was finally acknowledged as Portland’s Official Festival by proclamation of the Council.
With dozens of events spotlighting the diverse interests and culture of the community, the Rose Festival makes a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of lives annually, bringing smiles to the faces of both locals and guests. Peruse this website to learn more about the festival’s three popular parades, its three-weekend urban fair packed with great entertainment, good food and fantastic features, and about the iconic Court made up of local high school women making goodwill visits all around the state. The Rose Festival makes Portland a better place to live and visit.