Those who attended the Texas Rose Festival’s opening ceremony Thursday were encouraged to follow the example of women of inspiration and do what is right.
Held at Rose Garden Center, the ceremony was an occasion to recognize festival participants and volunteers, welcome guests and thank God for blessings.
It was the first of what will be several events through Sunday celebrating Tyler’s rose-growing heritage and status as Rose Capital of the United States.
Community leaders who founded the festival in 1933 would be pleased that it today is so deeply woven into the fabric of the city, Festival Association President Britton Brookshire said in his opening remarks.
“This is our time to make contributions and memories to Rose Festival history,” he said.
A proclamation from Mayor Martin Heines drew attention to the festival for attracting tourists, promoting the rose industry, celebrating volunteerism and instilling community pride.
Tom Brown, association vice president of rose activities, introduced Rose Queen Hanna Claire Waits, Rose Princess Elizabeth Anne Schoenbrun and Duchess of the Rose Growers Alexis Renee Smith.
Waits said that being the rose queen has been “the thrill of a lifetime” and that “the best is yet to come.”
Both Schoenbrun and Smith used their time at the microphone to cite Bible verses that acknowledge God as the source of blessings.
The worship service was led by the Rev. Dr. David O. Dykes, the senior pastor at Green Acres Baptist Church, the congregation of the Waits family.
Inspired by the festival’s theme, “Portraits of Inspiration,” Dykes spoke of four women who have had a “tremendous impact on the world.”
His first women of inspiration were Shiphrah and Puah, whose story is told in the Book of Exodus. The midwives in ancient Egypt defied orders of a pharaoh to kill all Hebrew newborn boys at birth.
They disobeyed the command because they feared God, Dykes said.
Their actions would eventually result in the rise of Moses as God’s chosen one to lead the Jews out of Egyptian bondage.
Dykes also held up civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks as a woman of inspiration.
On Dec. 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks, a black woman, refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus. Her act of defiance is credited with starting the civil rights movement, which led to African Americans gaining many rights that had been exclusive to white people.
Dykes also praised the bravery of Irena Sendler, a Polish social worker who during World War II smuggled thousands of Jewish babies out of Nazi-controlled areas. She is credited with saving thousands of lives.
“She was truly a portrait of inspiration,” Dykes said.
Citing the women’s willingness to defy authority when authority contradicts the will of God, Dykes said, “It is always right to do the right thing.”
Following Dykes’ message, Brown recognized the 10 children who will serve as the rose queen’s attendants during the festival.
The event ended with Brookshire, Dykes and Waits cutting a ribbon marking the start of the festival.
The All Saints Episcopal School Heart to Heart Choir under direction of Susie Fergus also performed during the opening ceremony.