Summer Roses: Behind The Scenes Of the 77th Texas Rose Festival
By COSHANDRA DILLARD
In less than three months, the 77th Texas Rose Festival will get under way and organizers of "Tyler, A Tapestry of Blessings," promise it will be an exciting one, celebrating civic pride and the beauty of the rose.
In the months leading up to the festival, Rose Queen Mary-Lawson Bracken Walden and Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival Laura Stacy Ramey have been especially busy as ambassadors for the city by promoting the rose-growing industry and forging new friendships with other young women from around the country.
REHEARSAL: Dance-N-Drill owner Lynn Ramey leads members of the Tyler court through summer rehearsals and shows them how to take their bows in preparation for October’s 77th Texas Rose Festival. Rose Queen Mary-Lawson Bracken Walden (above left) and Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival Laura Stacy Ramey (bottom right) pose for a portrait at the “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” luncheon on July 14. Miss Walden (above right) and Lady-in-Waiting Mallory Jane Robinson (center left) concentrate during the practice session. --- Staff Photos By Jaime R. Carrero
Their duties began in January, when they were first announced as TRF forefront ambassadors. Through a series of luncheons, a Rose Dedication Service, a fundraising gala and other ceremonies, they've eased into their roles with grace.
From parties and press conferences to meetings and fittings, Miss Walden said her role as rose queen has been like a full-time job.
"So far, it's been really fun. It's a lot more work than I thought it would be, but it's been a great experience, a growing experience for sure," she said. "There's been all of the dedication for all of the little things."
Following a week of rehearsals in which Miss Walden and her court learned to properly bow, walk and grace the stage, the 19-year-old rested in preparation for her next set of events.
Coming up for the rose queen are events which include a portrait in her dress, reading to young children at Sylvan Learning Center and opening a pig race.
She is enthusiastic about walking in her dress, which has "the most everything," she said, quoting her San Antonio-based dress-maker.
Miss Walden said it is estimated to weigh between 150 and 180 pounds.
"I look forward to the coronation because there has been a lot of rehearsing and effort put into it," she said, noting that she's also eager about the Queen's Tea during the October festival.
Miss Ramey, 19, said events leading up to this fall's grand occasion have been memorable. The week-long rehearsal with the queen's court brought out new and old friends from New Orleans, Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Chicago and Dallas, she said.
"Having everybody in town was really fun," Miss Ramey said. "Everyone was really great. Everybody got along great. It was so much fun. I love being an ambassador for Tyler, answering questions and introducing myself to people. It's been great."
For Miss Ramey, TRF events bring up a nostalgic memory of her childhood.
"I just remember being little and going to the coronation and seeing everybody in their costumes. It was so much fun, and now it's my year to shine and be on stage. It's a great honor and I'm really excited," she said.
With still so much left to do, the young women say they are eager about festivities to be held Oct. 14-16.
"I look forward to everybody in Tyler coming together, seeing the dresses, and the fruits of several months of meetings, luncheons, rehearsals and get-togethers," Miss Ramey said.
Miss Bracken added, "I'm just excited about all of it."