When Elizabeth Anne Schoenbrun was a cute little preschooler, her grandfather, Ron, delighted in showing off his little princess backstage during the Rose Queen’s Coronation.
At the time, Ron Schoenbrun was the house manager at the ceremony during which the rose queen and the ladies and children in the court are formally presented to an audience.
While waiting for their turn in the spotlight at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Cowan Center, the out-of-town duchesses and ladies-in-waiting gave little Liz tons of attention.
Schoenbrun remembers feeling like she had been dropped into the middle of a fairy tale come to life.
“I was mesmerized by the dresses,” she said of her first memories of the Texas Rose Festival. “The girls (of the court) were so beautiful. They were movie stars.”
As a child, Schoenbrun longed for the day when she could be one of the big girls in a pretty dress.
A few years later, at age 9, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald of Schoenbrun of Tyler was in the queen’s court. As an attendant to 2008 Rose Queen Sarah Clyde, she was onstage with the rose queen and other attendants during the climax of the lavish coronation ceremony.
“I remember looking up to the queen a lot,” Schoenbrun said of the experience.
Her mother, Gaye Schoenbrun, said her daughter was given a coronation souvenir book and had the best time going around getting autographs of the court members.
“I thought it was the coolest thing ever to be backstage with the other girls,” Elizabeth Schoenbrun added.
Schoenbrun said she was very much star-struck by the older court members.
A decade after being an attendant, Schoenbrun is returning to the queen’s court as one of the big girls. She is the rose princess.
“Since serving as a royal attendant to the queen in 2008, I’ve looked forward to the day I would get to share this experience again, with both my Tyler friends and the new friends I will make over the course of this year,” she said after being introduced as the rose princess at a news conference in January.
“It’s even more exciting,” she continued, “because I get to experience all of this with literally my oldest friend, Hanna.”
The Hanna she is referring to is Rose Queen Hanna Claire Waits, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Scott Waits of Tyler.
Schoenbrun and Waits have been friends since childhood. Waits also was an attendant to Rose Queen Sarah Clyde in 2008.
At Rose Sunday, an event held in April in the Rose Garden Center, Schoenbrun drew attention to the festival as a community celebration and paid homage to the rose industry.
“Throughout the years, I have noticed not only how the festival brings the community together, but I’m also aware of what a tremendous role the rose industry has played in establishing Tyler as the Rose Capital of America,” she said.
During a news conference held at the festival’s summer Kick-Off Party, Schoenbrun said: “I appreciate my family’s many years of service to the festival and to (be able to) share this experience alongside Queen Hanna, Duchess of the Rose Growers Alexis Smith and the court as we celebrate our city and share our hospitality.”
Schoenbrun is a sophomore and communication disorders major at the University of Arkansas. She serves at the university’s Volunteer Action Center and is in the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and Pi Beta Phi sorority.
As a court member, she is continuing a family tradition of service and participation in the festival. She has been a junior hostess at the Queen’s Tea and two years ago was a dressing assistant to one of the attendants to Rose Queen Emily Evans.
Besides being house manager at the Queen’s Coronation for 45 years, her grandfather, Ron, was a member of the Order of the Rose.
Her father is on the Texas Rose Festival Association board of directors, which oversees the festival. He also is a member of the Order of the Rose, has co-chaired the Escort Entertainment Committee and has been an escort.
For many years her mother has been one of the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make sure the Queen’s Coronation comes off without a hitch. She also has been co-chairman of the Rose Show Committee and has served on committees responsible for the Men’s Luncheon and Queen’s Tea.
Her aunt, Amy Schoenbrun Nichols, was a lady-in-waiting in 1990. Before that, her aunt served as a Queen’s Tea junior hostess and was a backstage assistant to Rose Queen Diana Taylor in 1984. Her uncle, Thomas D. Schoenbrun, was an escort in 1988.
She also has a younger brother, Jack.
Schoenbrun was asked to be the rose princess by Texas Rose Festival Association President Britt Brookshire. As princess, she gets extended time onstage during the Queen’s Coronation and is in the spotlight during the Queen’s Tea and Rose Parade.
During an interview earlier this year, Schoenbrun said sometimes she gets nervous when she thinks about the attention she will receive during the Rose Festival, which will be Oct. 17-20.
Her proud parents told her she didn’t have anything to worry about. They reminded her that she did a great job at summer rehearsals and reassured her that she will shine when the time comes for her to represent the festival, the city and her family.
“We just want her to be happy and to have fun,” added her mother.