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WINCHESTER – Bloomtown crowned its queen Friday in a decades-old ceremony witnessed by guests donned in pink and green.
The coronation of Queen Shenandoah XC Kiara Anastasia Laurenzano drew a crowd of dozens of people to the Patsy Cline Theatre at Handley High School as part of the 90th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival events. Laurenzano is the great niece of Edda Sevilla Somoza, who served as Queen Shenandoah XLVI.
Lorenzo Laurenzano escorted the queen-designate to the stage for the coronation.
Michael T. Stanfield, president of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, served as chancellor of the coronation.
“To each of you I extend a happy, springtime welcome to Winchester, also known as Bloomtown, the capital of our apple blossom country,” Stanfield read from a written statement as he declared the festival underway. “Let us enjoy together the beauty, pageantry and merrymaking of this special, 90th festival of the blossoms as we welcome another springtime to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.”
The Rev. Kristin Adkins Whitesides, acting pastor of the First Baptist Church, served as prelate and delivered the opening prayer for the coronation. Del. Christopher Collins, R-Winchester, serving as minister of the state, presented Laurenzano as the queen-designate seeking the crown. Miss Apple Blossom Festival 2017 Casey Catherine Shepherd – the Blossom Messenger – presented the queen designate with apple blossoms.
Lorena Sevilla Somoza, grandmother of Laurenzano, and Edda Sevilla Somoza served as ministers of the crown and delivered the oath. Edda Sevilla Somoza asked Laurenzano if she was ready to take on the responsibility as queen.
“Yes, I am ready,” Laurenzano said.
“Will you now, before all those gathered here, promise to be a good and gracious queen?” Lorena Somoza asked.
“Will you respect the laws of the kingdom and with prudence govern the land?” Edda Somoza asked.
“Will you honor the customs of the people and seek delight in all their ways?” Lorena Somoza asked.
“Will you discharge all the duties of the crown with diligence?” Edda Somoza asked.
“And will you, in all things, display a good, kind and happy spirit?” Lorena Somoza asked.
Laurenzano answered each question “I will.” The Somozas then went to place the crown on Laurenzano’s head – described as a symbol of joy and beauty in the farms and orchards.
“Wear it as a symbol of our faith and joy in your reign,” Edda Somoza said.
Laurenzano rose from her kneeling position on the chair and gave a short dance as she stood up. She then took her place on the throne. During the presentation of the royal insignia, the queen received symbols of her reign – scepter, key and apple.
Collins presented the scepter. Winchester Mayor John David Smith Jr., serving as the mayor of the coronation, presented the “key to our city’s heart” to the queen.
“I offer you the friendship of our people, the beauty of our public places, the warmth and comfort of our homes and the delight and fascination of our rich, historical heritage,” Smith said. “Welcome to our fair city. May it become your own.
Frederick Board of Supervisors Chairman Charles S. Dehaven Jr., minister of the apple, presented her with “the symbol of your kingdom’s strength.”
“Receive this imperial apple as a reminder of our need to thank God for his blessings and all his gracious gifts,” Dehaven said.
Stanfield introduced Bobby Labonte, NASCAR legend and firefighters’ marshal for the festival, whom Laurenzano then knighted as part of the ceremony. Laurenzano welcomed Labonte to the kingdom.
“Arise, Sir Bobby. Gentlemen, start your engines,” Laurenzano said.
Labonte said it means a lot to serve as a guest in the festival.
“I really do appreciate what you do in this city, what you do for the people and this is a great program,” Labonte said. “I’m honored to be here and I can’t wait to see the rest of the program and ride a fire truck later.
Larry Robinson, NBA veteran and player on the Houston Rockets championship team, served as court ambassador.
“I bring you greetings from all the nations of the Earth,” Robinson said. “They celebrate your ascendance and look forward to all of the days that you reign.
“May your hours be filled with joys and pleasures of springtime,” Robinson added. “May your kingdom delight in all of your good works.”
The ambassador asked the queen to pay homage to her subjects. The queen and court left the stage for seats in the audience. The Handley Singers provided the royal command performance. The event concluded with the recession.
Cadets from Randolph Macon Academy served as the Color Guard. Shenandoah University student athletes escorted princesses to the bleachers.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org