Ava Penkilo, 7, and her sister, Anna, 5, eagerly waited in line and curtsied when their turn came in the lineup of people waiting to walk up the steps and visit with Texas Rose Festival Queen Rachel Vanderpool Clyde during the queen’s tea on Saturday.
The girls had been practicing and excitedly approached the queen sitting under a structure resembling a 30-foot dome and a soaring bell tower.
The scene transforming the Tyler Rose Garden was a re-creation of the Piazza del Duomo in Florence, Italy, reflecting one of the queen’s favorite places.
The queen, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nelson Clyde of Tyler and a sophomore at The University of Texas at Austin, and members of her royal court greeted festival visitors in the cool sunshine.
Queen Rachel said she was having a great time.
“We couldn’t ask for better weather. It’s a little chilly, but I’d rather (have that) than it be hot. It’s just been awesome. It’s been fun to see all the little girls come out and take pictures with them,” she said.
Besides the queen, dressed in their formal coronation attire were the duchesses, ladies-in-waiting and queen’s young attendants.
“It’s an absolutely gorgeous setting,” Raymond Krueger, designer of the Queen’s Tea and Rose Show, said earlier.
The event’s theme was “Raindrops on Roses and Other Favorite Things.”
A free outdoor event presented by the queen’s parents, the two-hour tea in the center court of the Tyler Rose Garden gave guests an opportunity to meet the queen and to have their photographs taken with the queen and members of her court while enjoying refreshments. Cookies from Sister2Sister Cookies, a local baking company, and iced tea were served.
“It’s wonderful,” Jeanette Mallory, of Lindale, said. “Everyone is so happy and courteous. (It’s nice) seeing the generations together — grandmothers, mothers and the little ones getting their picture taken. And the weather is gorgeous.”
Faye Lowe, of Tyler, said, “We come every year. We always enjoy it. We just walk around and look. It’s very nice.”
The tradition of the rose festival and queen’s tea is “interesting,” observed Masha Pavlova, a native of the Republic of Belarus now residing in Dallas. “All the girls are beautiful. Tyler is a place with beautiful women.”
Beverly Abell, of Tyler, brought visitors from England to the queen’s tea and other rose festival attractions.
“They are loving it,” she said. “It makes me proud to be able to take them to an event like this and to bring them to a place like the rose garden. It’s pretty special.”
Liz Zales, of Tyler, described the queen’s tea as “quite spectacular and overwhelming.”
The costumes reminded Jovil Martin, a native of the Caribbean now living in College Station, of the costumes in a Caribbean carnival.
“It’s a lot of pageantry with the queen and very interesting. This is our first time and we would like to come again,” she said.
Accompanied by two sisters from out of town, Martha Cook, of Tyler, said the tea was “perfectly lovely. It’s such a lovely gift. It almost brings tears to my eyes what a sweet thing to do for the community.”
Mary K. Peltier, of Tyler, said the tea and costumes were “absolutely beautiful.” She added, “The canopy over the queen is stunning and the weather could not be more perfect and the roses are beautiful.”
Carol Smith, of Houston, said, “The tea is very elegant and very beautiful. It’s good to see the dresses up close and to talk to the girls.”
It was Jennifer Young of Tyler’s first time to come to the tea.
“The costumes are gorgeous and I’m thoroughly enjoying myself,” she said.
The dome the queen was sitting under was “so elegant and perfect,” Carolyn Verver, of Tyler, said.
Closely looking at the fabric and trim, Jennifer Oler, of Tyler, said the costumes were “phenomena.” She added, “It’s beautiful to firsthand up-close and to be able to talk with the ladies. It’s very nice.”
In town to visit relatives, Elizabeth Boivin of Centreville, Va., said the tea was “a fun family event.”
Jim Huggler, of Tyler, called the tea “a great event for our community.”
Officials estimate 2,500 to 3,000 people attend the Queen’s Tea every year, also admiring the 14-acre Tyler Rose Garden featuring more than 35,000 rose bushes.
Staff Writer Coshandra Dillard contributed to this report.