By Pat Jenkins
Sadness tinged with hope mixed with happiness and tears of joy while the Daffodil Festival was picking its new queen last Saturday.
As 25 princesses from Pierce County high schools – including Bethel, Eatonville and Graham-Kapowsin – competed for the crown that eventually went to Marissa Modestowicz of Emerald Ridge, the proceedings paused for an announcement of a new partnership between the festival and Charlie’s Dinosaur, a foster children’s service coordinated by the Pierce County Sheriff Department and Crimestoppers of Tacoma-Pierce County.
The program, which helps children during some of their darkest hours, gets its name from a dinosaur poster that belonged to Charlie Powell. The 7-year-old and his brother, Braden Powell, 5, were murdered by their father at his Graham-area residence in 2012. The program provides care packs of toys and personal items for displaced foster children. The Daffodil royalty will help assemble those packs, Sheriff Department representatives said on the same stage at Life Center in Tacoma where a memorial service was held two years ago for the Powell boys.
The rest of the queen coronation belonged to a celebration of youth and optimism as the candidates gave short speeches and answered impromptu questions on the festival theme of “Ready, set, grow.”
A nearly packed house of spectators, many of them in rooting sections for their favorite princess, waited through the two-hour ceremony for the judges’ selection of Modestowicz. She will preside over the 81st annual festival’s events, including the Grand Floral Parade April 5.
Modestowicz, referring to her height (“I stand 4 feet 10 inches short”), told the audience and judges that she decided long ago to make herself stand out and help build the “next generation of leaders.” She’s planning for a career in business management.
Joining her in the parade and other festival activities will be the rest of the princesses, who were picked by their schools to represent them and their communities. They include Megan Chabot of Bethel, Emily Saito of Eatonville and Casey Park of Graham-Kapowsin.
Chabot, who plans to study zoology in college, credited her family and teachers for helping her overcome “the obstacles of life.”
Saito stressed the importance of fostering good human relations through accepting everyone and being a good listener. Her career goal is to becoma a computer engineer.
Park, a budding marine biologist, said being a Daffodil princess, which she never expected would happen, has helped her realize her potential is limitless.
Other highlights of the evening included a choreographed musial performance by the princesses together, and gifts from Microsoft of a computer for each contestant.