In a ceremony that paid tribute to women who have graced the silver screen and inspired others, Hanna Claire Waits was crowned queen of the Texas Rose Festival on Friday afternoon.
The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Waits of Tyler graced the stage wearing a gown with a train on which more than 10,000 beads and gemstones continuously sparkled under the stage lights at the University of Texas at Tyler’s Cowan Center.
The Queen’s Coronation is one of the highlights of the festival, which continues through Sunday. A second Queen’s Coronation performance took place Friday night.
The formal presentation of the Rose Queen’s Court also featured Rose Princess Elizabeth Anne Schoenbrun, Duchess of the Rose Growers Alexis Renee Smith, the ladies-in-waiting from Tyler, out-of-town duchesses, escorts and children attendants to the rose queen.
The young women executed bows that ranged from a curtsy and a nod to lowering all the way until the chin was inches from the stage.
In a prelude to the show, the festival paid tribute to Winn Morton of Lancaster, who has designed the costumes and sets since 1982. He is retiring this year. Morton was praised in a video as having no limit to creativity.
When Morton came out and bowed, he pointed to his heart several times in a gesture of gratitude for decades of applause.
The show opened with Smith, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Burton and Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Smith, as Elizabeth Price Martin, founder of the Garden Club of America.
Her big hoop skirt in shades of pink was covered in what looked like supersized blooming roses. Her headdress had floral designs and pink-toned jewels.
The ladies-in-waiting were presented as glamorous movie stars and the duchesses were presented as inspirational women throughout history.
Images of the real women were projected on tall screens that flanked the screen.
Sydney Luisa Brunette of Tyler was presented as Elizabeth Taylor. Her costume’s long cape, draping strings of beads and towering headpiece paid homage to Taylor’s starring role as Cleopatra.
Anna Catherine Negem of Tyler was Judy Garland. Her glamorous costume in shades of purples and blues looked as if it could have been worn by Garland in her hit 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis.”
Katherine Berman of Houston represented Betsy Ross. Her dress featured a waving U.S. flag in the style that Ross designed in 1776.
Grace Neblett’s Amelia Earhart costume was a hit with the audience. Neblett, the duchess of Spring Branch, raised her arms to reveal a pair of wings patterned after one of the famous aviator’s 1930s-era planes.
Rose Princess Schoenbrun, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Schoenbrun of Tyler, was presented as Queen Elizabeth.
Her white gown accented with gold adornments contrasted with a royal purple sash. She carried a fan covered in gemstones and wore a silver crown.
The finale began with the introduction of the queen’s 10 young attendants and Britton Brookshire, Festival Association president.
The packed house at the Cowan Center first spied Waits behind a sheer curtain at the back of the stage, standing and applauding as the curtain lifted to reveal a beaming young woman.
Brookshire crowned Waits queen as the young attendants looked on, and then Waits made her way down the steps to the front of the stage and executed her bow.
She was assisted by her escort, Tyler Lee Overbeek.
Waits’ gown and train ensemble was a highlight of the ceremony.
Her 16-foot-long train was made of navy velvet, royal blue lamè, emerald green satin, velvet and brocade in shades of blue and gold. The train was covered in crystals, rhinestones and Swarovski beads.
A jewel-encrusted collar framed Waits’ head. She wore a towering crown, which Morton earlier said was the largest ever created for a rose queen, and carried a golden scepter.
After Waits returned to the top of the stairs, the other members of the court returned for final bows.
Queen’s Court members will be wearing their coronation attire during the Rose Parade beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday on Front Street at Glenwood Boulevard and during the Queen’s Tea on Saturday afternoon in the Rose Garden.