The Queen's Tea during the 79th Texas Rose Festival will merge elements of the Far East with the traditional components of the celebration.
Held in the courtyard of the Tyler Rose Garden, the Queen's Tea offers an opportunity for the public to meet Rose Queen Haley McGrede Anderson, Duchess of the Rose Growers Joy Lynn Ramey, the ladies-in-waiting and the rose queen's young attendants all dressed in their formal coronation attire.
Attending the Queen's Tea provides “the best view (up-close) of all to see the costumes and the beautiful work,” said Debbie Roosth, co-chairman of the Queen's Tea.
The tea will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday. It is free to the public. If there is bad weather, the tea will be moved to inside the Rose Garden Center overlooking the garden.
The tea is presented by the parents of the rose queen, Mr. and Mrs. Rowe McGrede Anderson, and Texas Rose Festival Association represented by the association president and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Tim Alexander.
PAGODAS AND DRAGONS
Miss Anderson will greet guests from under a towering three-tiered Chinese-styled pagoda with arched windows and a bright red roof adorned with decorative lanterns and dragons and topped with red finial ball, said information from the organizers.
The columns of the pagoda will carry a stylized 'A' that mimics the design on her gown's flowing train. Inside the pagoda, framing Miss Anderson will be bonsai topiaries with large arrangements of roses at the base.
The queen's attendants, children who serve roles such as scepter bearer and trainbearer, will be positioned in smaller pagodas flanking the queen's pagoda.
Miss Ramey, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry King Ramey, will greet guests from under a stylish tent near Rose Garden's focal point center fountain.
The tent will rise to a red center peak topped with a dragon emblem and finial. The columns will be draped in red and topped with Chinese lanterns. Miss. Ramey will be flanked by two large arrangements of roses.
The ladies-in-waiting, young women from Tyler families, will be positioned on platforms that will be adorned with red fabric, Chinese lanterns and dragon plaques.
The centerpiece of the decorations will be an oversized dragon with scales of green and gold. The dragon, created in the style used in Chinese cultural celebrations, will stretch for 20 feet and rise in and out of a large bed of fresh roses.
Susan Davis, co-chair of the Queen's Tea, said she and Mrs. Roosth began planning how to incorporate the Asian-inspired theme into the Rose Garden setting as early as February.
The theme, “Indochine: Year of the Dragon,” was envisioned as a way to both showcase the city's beloved rose and take guests on a journey through Asia inspired by the adventures of Venetian explorer Marco Polo. Blending Tyler traditions with Asian inspiration allowed organizers to be creative.
“It really wasn't hard because there are set (cultural) things,” Ms. Davis said. “The look of it is going to be so different.”
Ms. Roosth added, “The theme has really made it easy for us said. “This was so obviously very distinct.”
To add to the ambiance, a trio of musicians will perform on the balcony overlooking the garden. Guests will also be treated to punch and refreshments including fortune cookies.
When the Tyler Rose Garden was created in the early 1950s, the Queen's Tea relocated to the garden to accommodate larger crowds. It is now held after the Rose Parade on the Saturday of the festival and draws thousands of visitors.
The rose queen's parents and other family members continue to play a key role in the tradition.
The rose queen's mother, Bettie Anderson, said her family looks forward to the day of the celebration and the civic pride it encompasses.
“We're proud to be a part of our community coming together,” she said. “I really do love the fact that it (the Texas Rose Festival) helps the commerce of Tyler and helps promote our volunteerism. A lot of people come out to work and volunteer.”
The queen's father, Rowe Anderson, is president of Order of the Rose and Mrs. Anderson has served in various roles as a festival volunteer since her childhood. Miss Anderson's sister, Virginia Winston Anderson, served as Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival last year.
“It's a wonderful tradition to keep going. I just feel like it's (festival participation) a fun and long tradition with our family,” she said.
Mrs. Anderson added that is a privilege that her daughters have had the opportunity to participate in Tyler's biggest civic event.
“It's fun for them. Both have had a good time representing Tyler two years in a row,” Mrs. Anderson said.
The 14-acre garden, which is in full bloom during the festival, features more than 35,000 rose bushes on tiered landscapes that feature walkways, fountains, pools and several courtyards.
The Rose Garden is maintained by the city and supported by donations of rose bushes from rose growers. Since its opening in 1952, the garden has brought Tyler acclaim and national attention and remains the city's top tourist attraction.
The garden also serves as one of 24 All-America Rose Selection trial gardens in which new varieties of roses are evaluated for vigor, growth and disease resistance.