One will become Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival queen tonight

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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CHIMACUM — When three of five candidates are crowned as royalty for the 78th annual Port Townsend Rhododendron Festival tonight, a matched set will be broken up, according to one longtime festival observer.

“All these girls are amazing,” said Melanie Bozak, past president of the Rhododendron Association.

“They've worked very hard during the candidacy and have formed a really close bond and are already wondering how they are going to lose two of their number.”

The coronation ceremony for a queen and two princesses will begin at 6 p.m. at the Chimacum High School auditorium, 91 West Valley Road.

Tickets are $5 each and are available at the door.

Chimacum High School Principal Whitney Meissner will serve as mistress of ceremonies for the festivities, which will include a performance by the Shula Azhar belly dancers.

The contestants are:

■   Corinthia Cardona, 17, a Chimacum High School senior who plans to earn an associate degree at Peninsula College and then transfer to a four-year university to major in either business or medicine.

■   Yarro Lanphear Ramirez, 17, a Port Townsend High School senior who plans to become a Spanish-English interpreter and an artist.

■   Kaila Olin, 17, a Port Townsend High School senior, who aims to attend the University of Washington, where she would like to be a cheerleader before becoming a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader and eventually a sports agent after law school.

■   Megan Walsh, 16, a Port Townsend High School junior who plans to study business at a four-year college.

■   Emma White Thunder, 17, a Chimacum High School senior who plans to attend the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

One of the five will be crowned queen, with two selected as princesses for the festival, set from May 13-18.

The queen will receive a $1,500 scholarship and the princesses each will get a $1,000 scholarship.

Since January, the five contestants have appeared before service groups and participated in judge interviews.

While the judge's panel, which is made up of community members, has talked with candidates, the decision will be made after Saturday appearances.

Five participants exceeds the number of contestants in recent years, a trend Bozak expects will continue.

“From what I hear, we could have seven or eight contestants” next year, she said.

“Maybe the word is getting out that this is all about scholarship and representing the community. It isn't a beauty pageant.”

A festival fundraiser, “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” is planned May 11 at the American Legion Hall, 209 Monroe St., Port Townsend.

Men will dress up as women and dance for tips to benefit the festival.

Bozak said nine people had committed by this week to appear at the event, which is hoping to draw 20 participants.

To volunteer, phone Steve Spencer at 360-774-0879.

For more information about the festival, visit


Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at

Last modified: March 14. 2013 6:08PM
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