Rose Parade princess shares tryout secrets

Rose Parade princess shares tryout secrets
Rachelle Liu

Rachelle Liu was chosen to be a Rose Parade Princess. She has some advice for those who would follow in her footstep. (Courtesy Photo)

San Marino High School grad Rachelle Liu fondly remembers her time as a Rose Parade princess.

Chosen with six other young women to ride down Pasadena’s Colorado Boulevard on New Year’s Day in the annual Tournament of Roses, Liu, now a freshman at Johns Hopkins University,  began the process as just a face in the crowd of 900 seeking a chance to be a princess.

“The biggest pressure is just getting over the nerves,” Liu said. “If you can do that, you can do anything.”

Applications for the 2017 Rose Parade Royal Court will open Aug. 1 . Young women who meet the qualifications will compete with hundreds of other San Gabriel Valley locals for a spot on the Queen’s Float.

“Applying to be a princess is like a senior rite of passage,” she said.

Princesses are drawn from the Pasadena Area Community College District, which stretches La Canada to North El Monte.  More than 900 girls applied for the position last year, and the Tournament is expecting similar numbers this year.

Of the applicants, just 250 will progress to the second round of interviews, and that number will be pared down to 25 by Sept. 28, when the finalists are announced. The seven members of the Royal Court will be revealed on Oct.  4, with the Queen being announced on Oct. 20.

Liu remembers the process as nerve-wracking. Many of her closest friends failed to make the cut, but her own anxiety paid off when she was chosen for the 2016 Court. She says that genuine community spirit is what separates princesses from other applicants. A bit of confidence doesn’t hurt, either.

Each princess receives a $2,500 scholarship, Liu said and clothes from Macy’s, Tournament spokeswoman Candy Carlson.  Hair styling and cosmetics consultations are also perks princesses, Carlson said. Only the Mikimoto tiaras will be returned to the Rose Parade.

Liu said her most rewarding public appearance didn’t take place at the Rose Parade or at any one of the several high-profile luncheons and breakfasts where she was introduced to the community. Instead what touched her most was a visit to a school for the developmentally disabled.

Princesses collaborate with volunteer groups such as Lions Club, Kiwanis International, and others to give their time back to the community.

Balancing a schedule of public appearances with college applications and regular schoolwork is a challenge, but Liu has a simple tip for any girls willing to tough it out.

“Smile,” she said. “No matter what happens!”

This story has been corrected.

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