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updated: 5/16/2012 11:59 AM

Rose Queen pageant continues as organizers step down

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The crowning of the Rose Queen Friday in Roselle will bring to a close an important chapter in the pageant's long history.

This year will mark the last pageant for longtime Rose Queen organizers Linda McDermott and Teri Hodgdon, who have organized the event for 25 of its 53 years.

McDermott said she and Hodgdon felt it was time to "have some new blood," and will hand the pageant reins to the mother and daughter team of Amy Reuter and Kelly Baker. Baker, who was then Kelly Reuter, was Rose Queen in 2005.

Under Hodgdon and McDermott's leadership, the pageant has undergone many changes, including last year's addition of Itasca Bank and Trust as a major sponsor. Previously, all the contestants had to secure their own sponsors and McDermott said organizers feared the tough economy would make that increasingly difficult and might discourage participation.

The two women also weighted the five components of the pageant -- talent, sportswear, evening gown, an onstage question and pre-pageant interviews -- evenly at 10 points.

McDermott said many other pageants weigh talent more heavily, but this arrangement makes Roselle's contest more fair.

This year, seven Lake Park High School students will compete for the crown and a $2,000 scholarship. The first runner-up will receive a $1,000 scholarship and the second runner-up earns a $500 scholarship.

The winner will appear in the annual Rose Parade June 3, represent the village at Roselle events throughout the year, as well as at parades and events in the surrounding communities.

All participants must be Roselle residents of high school age or students at Lake Park High School. This year's contestants are Lake Park seniors Margaret Israel and Veronica Fazio of Roselle, Amanda Siciak and Maria Catalano of Bloomingdale, and Katie Ruby of Itasca; junior Angelina Rose of Roselle; and sophomore Michelle Castro of Roselle.

"We didn't want to see it go away after all this time, since we think it's just a great thing for young women in Roselle," McDermott said.

"I just think it's one of those things like the Taste of Roselle or Santa coming to the library, people just like to have traditions for their families and their young people."

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