While organizers know scholarship funds are part of the reason teens have been entering Roselle's annual Rose Queen Pageant for 52 years, they suspect the sense of local tradition plays a huge role, too.
"Every spring when it comes time for the Rose Parade, everyone wants to know who the Rose Queen is," said pageant spokeswoman Linda McDermott.
If you goIf you go
What: Rose Queen Pageant
When: 7 p.m. Friday, May 20
Where: Lake Park High School West Campus, 500 W. Bryn Mawr Ave., Roselle
Cost: $5 for adults, $3 for children
Info: (630) 894-5478
At this year's pageant on Friday, May 20, 11 seniors and one junior from Lake Park High School in Roselle will show off their talent, smarts and beauty in an effort to win the crown and top prize, a $2,000 college scholarship.
Roselle contestants are Courtney Schuchmann, Amanda Lindsey, Kelsey Wrightwood, Alexis Touras, Marissa Troyke, Andzelika Wojnowska, Amanda Miller and Mollie Hammerschmidt.
Other competitors are Kirstie McHugh of Hanover Park; Lauren Caputo of Bloomingdale, the pageant's only junior; Marissa Kleemann of Itasca; and Marisa Farrell of Medinah.
The event is sponsored by Itasca Bank and Trust, which is a major change from previous years when all contestants had to secure their own sponsors. McDermott said the tough economy had organizers worried that contestants might have a hard time finding individual sponsors, which in turn might discourage participation.
"So many communities have had to cancel things due to lack of sponsorship, because it's just a hard time for everyone," McDermott said. "So what Itasca Bank is doing this year is just amazing for us."
Pageant contestants spent last week participating in preliminary interviews with judges. And Friday, they will compete in four other components: talent, sportswear, evening gown, and an onstage question.
McDermott said all five components are worth 10 points, instead of weighting areas like talent more heavily, as many pageants do.
"We made it all equal, because not everyone can sing and dance," said McDermott. "Some girls shine at the interview, some are very poised on the stage and this gives them a very fair opportunity to shine in their special area."
The pageant is open to any female, ages 16 to 19, who lives or works in Roselle, or attends Lake Park. The first runner-up will receive a $1,000 scholarship and the second runner-up earns a $500 scholarship.
In addition to earning her scholarship, the winner represents Roselle at this year's annual Rose Parade Sunday, June 5, as well as at various village events throughout the year.