Royalty selection

From left, Princess Mariya Mathis, Princess Gwen Hankins, 2018 Queen Jennifer Cisneros, 2019 Queen Julissa Alvarez, Princess Taralynn Fox and 2018 Princess Madison Whiteaker. Queen Cisneros will crown 2019 Queen Alvarez on Friday, May 10.

OROVILLE — Julissa Alvarez will be crowned as 2019 May Festival queen by 2018 Queen Jenny Cisneros at a coronation ceremony Friday, May 10.

Alvarez was chosen queen among four candidates during selection night Thursday, March 7 at Oroville High School.

“It feels pretty great. It’s a blessing,” said Alvarez after being named queen. “I’m most excited about meeting all these new people and representing our town the best I can.”

Candidates were judged based on a personal interview earlier in the day, along with delivery of a speech each candidate wrote about themselves, modeling and poise and answering impromptu questions during selection night.

Taralynn Fox, Gwen Hankins and Mariya Mathis were named princesses.

Judging the candidates were Shilo Lyver, Laura Curdie, Katy Stinson, Teresa Hawkins and Jeff Bunnell. Judges’ votes counted for 65 percent and community votes, including fellow students, counted for 35 percent.

Alvarez said she is a freshman at Wenatchee Valley College Omak through the Running Start program, and that involvement in high school sports like track and field taught her patience. She said she belonged to several clubs, including Be the Change, Upward Bound and her church youth group.

“Those taught me to have an open mind and be positive,” said Alvarez. “The sports and clubs have shaped who I am today.”

Julissa Alvarez

Alvarez said as a first-generation college student, she was grateful for Upward Bound, which “helps you get there.”

She said her own health issues and the benefits she received from chiropractic care inspired her to set a goal of becoming a chiropractor.

“I love Oroville, with its access to nature, and the community and school, and unique events like May Fest. Being able to go on a hike with friends after school is a privilege,” said Alvarez.

She said one thing she loved about the community was how everyone pulled together.

“After the flood, everyone came together and we pulled off something amazing. Everyone chipped in,” said Alvarez. “In summers, I work in orchards or on the cherry line, and I’m proud to come from a community that’s deeply rooted in integrity and hard work.”

Alvarez said May Fest is a big event for her family, who gets together after the parade for a BBQ. She said a favorite memory was going into the street to get candy during the parade, and looking up and seeing the queen and princesses on their float.

“I wanted to be just like them,” said Alvarez. “The reason I want to be queen is I would get to represent this amazing town and the amazing people as well. I would get to be the person for other girls to look up to.”

Mariya Mathis

Mathis, also a Running Start student taking classes at Wenatchee Valley College Omak, said she plans to become a certified nursing assistant. Mathis said she plans to go on to the University of Phoenix and study mental health with a focus on cognitive behavioral therapy. Her favorite part of May Festival is seeing the whole community come together, as well as people from other communities, and the chance to see her childhood best friend at the annual event. Mathis said she wanted to be queen because she has dealt with a lot of mental health issues and heartbreak, including watching someone close to her die of cancer.

“Representing Oroville is a big motivation, as others would see I became Queen after everything I’ve been through,” said Mathis. “I feel like I have the kindness and leadership this town needs. I think I can make a difference and be someone for younger girls to look up to.”

Taralynn Fox

Fox remarked on how caring people in Oroville are.

“When sports teams go to state, they have a parade, and when someone in the community needs help, everyone pitches in,” said Fox, adding that as much as she loves it here, she was grateful for the Running Start program, which will give her the opportunity to enter a radiology program in another location to get a different perspective.

“It’s quite stunning here and beautiful, and I love it. There’s no hustle and bustle; the only rush I’ve ever seen is people lining up on Main Street to watch the May Fest parade,” said Fox.

She recalled a favorite memory from her childhood as a Maypole dancer, when she saw an older lady resting on her walker, and Fox walked over and handed her a flower. She said she was struck by the look on the woman’s face as she said, “Thank you.”

“I’ve wanted to be Queen as long as I can remember, although those reasons have changed over the years,” said Fox. “First I wanted to dress up and be pretty, but now I want to represent Oroville.” Fox said she wasn’t the typical pageant contestant. “I’m one of two captains on the wrestling team,” said Fox. “I want to show girls it’s okay to dress and act as they please. They can be unique and be one of the boys and play tough, yet still dress up and be pretty.”

Gwen Hankins

Hankins introduced herself as a 17-year-old junior and Running Start student at Wenatchee Valley College Omak who hoped to receive her Associate of Arts degree at the same time as her high school diploma. Hankins said after attending a four-year university, she hopes to get her PhD and become a pediatric surgeon. She said being a member of FBLA, playing on the basketball team and involvement in a mentoring program at school made her aspire to be a role model.

“I like to think I have a positive impact on everyone I see,” said Hankins. “I love Disney movies and I remember watching the parades and thinking how a small-town girl can become like a Disney princess.”

Hankins recalled being at the May Fest parade when she was 13, and picking up candy after the children had gotten theirs and cleared the way. “Then I saw a boy who didn’t have any, and I gave him some of mine and he smiled and said, “thank you.”

Hankins said a trip last year to Baltimore with the FBLA program made her “appreciate Oroville all the more.”

“I want a chance to represent all of this across the state,” said Hankins.

Following prepared speeches, candidates answered impromptu questions and enjoyed music by Christina Herrick who performed a rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up.”

May Fest activities, including a parade, take place in Oroville Saturday, May 11.

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