Rachel Vanderpool Clyde will have a busy year. The Texas Rose Festival queen will be splitting her time between preparations for the culmination of festival events in October, her college schedule and hobbies.
One of the 18-year-old's favorite memories of past Texas Rose Festivals includes going to the Queen's Tea each year. Another fond memory is being wowed at a Queen's Coronation ceremony, which she attended with her best friend Hannah Greenberg. The two girls watched and pondered how the ladies of the court could hold their arms in a raised position for so long while on stage.
“So we would sit up there in the balcony and try to hold our arms up for the same amount of time that they did on stage but we never could make it,” she recalled. “We always put our arms down so I'm hoping that's not going to be an issue.”
This year, Miss Clyde will embody the grace of the coronation that impressed her as a child. The honor of participating in the festival is one that many in her family have experienced. Through the years, several Clydes have either been in the festival or have served as a volunteer. Her sister, Sarah Elizabeth Clyde, was rose queen in 2008.
“I knew I'd want to be a part of it (the festival) for sure,” Miss Clyde said. “I really didn't think I'd be asked to be queen since my sister was queen. I didn't think that was going to happen. … It's been a huge part of my family, so I was always wanting to be a part of it when I got to be old enough.”
Planning for the festival has already begun for the family. They've met with designer Winn Morton to being the process of weaving Miss Clyde's favorite things and the festival theme into the design of one of the much-anticipated stars of the Rose Festival presentations — the queen's coronation gown and train.
Miss Clyde, like previous rose queens, can expect a year filled with public speaking, networking and travel. As former queen Sarah Clyde put it, “you only get to do it once.”
“It's going to be a really fun year and I'm glad we have a little bit of experience with Sarah,” Rachel Clyde said. “We know what to expect.”
This year she will be joined by familiar faces.
“Many of my best friends are in it this year, so getting to be with them in the festival and also getting to meet all these other people, I think that's what I'm looking forward to most,” she said.
An accounting major at the University of Texas at Austin, Miss Clyde plans on attending law school to prepare her for a career as a corporate commercial lawyer.
She's an avid runner, reader and baker. She said she'd like to revisit her love of horseback riding.
“Rachel is so poised and sweet and gracious so she'll make a really great queen,” her sister, Sarah, said. “I'm very happy that she gets the opportunity to do it.”
Miss Clyde's father, Nelson Clyde, arranged to meet his daughter for dinner at her favorite Austin restaurant, Eddie V's. There they planned to also meet with some cousins, hence, there were three empty chairs at the table.
Although Miss Clyde already knew what she wanted to eat, her father told her to look over the menu anyway.
“I looked at the menu and there was something (on it) about rose petals, steeped in tradition,” she said.
Tyler Rose Petals was listed as an appetizer. It was deemed “priceless” in the spot in which the cost was supposed to be listed. Other references to Tyler were scattered throughout the menu, hinting to her upcoming role in the Texas Rose Festival. Preparations for the surprise altered menu were worked out days earlier in cooperation with the restaurant.
While Miss Clyde was looking at the menu, her father signaled for Texas Rose Festival President Randy Grooms, who was accompanied by his wife, Jo Ann Grooms, and Miss Clyde's mother, Elizabeth Clyde, to join them at the table. They had been hiding inside in the restaurant's bar.
Grooms kneeled before Miss Clyde and asked if she'd accept the role of queen for the 75th annual festival.
“I had no idea,” Miss Clyde said. “When my sister was asked, it was over Thanksgiving break, so I wasn't even thinking about that. That was two weeks before I came home from (Thanksgiving) break.”
“It was a major surprise,” Clyde said. “We pulled off a real coup.”
When Sarah Clyde was selected as the 2008 queen, her family surprised her with a newspaper section announcing that she would be queen.
Miss Clyde has a close relationship with her sister, Sarah, 23. Sarah graduated from Texas Christian University in 2011, and now lives in Houston working for a drilling company as an analyst
FAMILY AND LEGACY
Her maternal great-grandfather, M.J. Harvey, was the 1947 president of the Texas Rose Festival Association. Her father, Nelson Clyde IV, served as an escort in 1983 and Mrs. Clyde was a lady in waiting in 1981. Her aunt, Anna Clyde Malone, and her great-aunt, Eloise Clyde Chandler, were queens in 1996 and 1974 respectively. Mrs. Malone's daughter, Claire Ann Malone, will serve as an attendant this year.
Brothers James Michael Clyde, 14, and Calvin Nelson Clyde V, 21, have served as scepter bearer and attendant to the queen, respectively.
Clyde said the family views its ongoing participation as “a real privilege.”
“It's about working really hard and showing hospitality to other people,” he said. “It's also a great time. It's a fun thing to do.”
He added, “I hope that the legacy is putting our best foot forward as a community and showcasing the people and places of our community in a positive way.”
For Mrs. Clyde, memories of past years and of Sarah's coronation are especially sentimental.
“I love the tea and all of the little girls,” Mrs. Clyde said. “When they come up and talk to the queen it's just like such a fantasy to them. They think they're really royalty.”
“The first time you see your daughter up on stage in her coronation gown — that is a special moment,” she said, adding that she actually cried every moment she saw Sarah in the dress.
“Her smile was just so beautiful,” he said. “She was so beautiful and the joy she was radiating was so overwhelming to me. It made me feel, as a dad, a real sense of joy, and I wanted to share in that joy with other people.”
Clyde lost his father, Calvin Nelson III, a few months before Sarah was crowned, leaving a cast of sorrow over the family. The festival, however, brought the family together. The mood this year, he said, will be different.
“We're not starting this with the sadness of the last time,” Clyde said. “It was a great thing for us to have something that brought joy in the face of a sorrowful time for us.”
A proud father, Clyde lauded his daughter's newest achievement and her noble personality.
“Rachel is very self-assured,” he said. “And she is really herself with people. She doesn't try to change who she is to make anybody else happy. She's just herself and I think that a wonderful quality.”
“And I think she's beautiful,” he added.