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ani, glitter

Her Daughter Was a Junior Princess in 1980

It was a Thursday night in March of 1980, the night my daughter Heather was anxiously waiting for -- the night for try-outs for the District 5 Junior Princess selection!

There were 102 'little ladies' standing on the stage at Franklin high school that night. Each of these nine and ten-year-olds took their turn at the microphone, holding up their white paper plates with their number on them.

Heather had been working on her short speech for several weeks. It's still so very clear to me, even after 27 years! She was the shortest of all 102 girls. I was happy to hear that the Rose Festival had changed their method of selection, because when I was the right age you had to be a certain height or you didn't get to actually try out for the court. (I was always too short!)

Heather was #40. She took her turn at the microphone and here's what she said:

"I am a dancer. I take gymnastics, tap, jazz and ballet. I take gymnastics so I can spring back in any situation. Tap gives me sharp tones when moving from heal to toe and on the go. Jazz gives me a beat that puts rhythm in my hands and feet. And Ballet gives me grace, so I don't fall on my face."

The evening continued with each girls taking her turn -- then would come the announcement of the top six girls who would be given an additional interview.

I remember flying out of my chair when Heather's name was announced as one of the top six girls!

They soon went back behind the stage for their brief interviews. I later found out that one of the questions the judges asked my daughter was, "What is your favorite TV show?" Heather's answer was, "Benny Hill." She said she had watched it with Grandpa Tony! The Judges laughed.

The announcement of the 1980 Junior Princess from District 5 was upon us. The curtains opened and there sat my little girl in the Princess Chair! They announced, "Junior Rose Festival Princess, Heather Fralia!"

Tears started to well up in my eyes. She'd done it! She had that competitive spirit that is seen in all of our family -- and is seen in her daughter Reece today. In the many years that followed, so did other awards at the city, state and national level.

It was a wonderful and fun experience for our entire family that Rose Festival year of 1980. Even with Mt. Saint Helens blowing and the Junior Court being made to wear their white masks!

Heather and her court wearing masks in 1980

That was the year Danny Thomas was our Grand Marshal, and he rode on the Junior Court float in the Grand Floral Parade and we all got a chance to meet him.

Judy Fralia-Mantello and daughter Heather

That year all the Moms, Dads and siblings had red t-shirts made that told which Princess was special to them. Mine read, "I'm Princess Heather's Mom."

Judy Fralia-Mantello with Danny Thomas

We also made a banner that read, "Jr. Rose Festival -- Princess Heather -- We Love You."

~Judy Fralia-Mantello