Jan. 27, 2018 — “Rhody Rendezvous” is the theme of the 111th Rhododendron Festival, and the 2018 Rhododendron Court will continue the grand tradition of Rhody Days.
Florence Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the annual festival.
“This year’s ‘Rhody Rendezvous’ theme intends to evoke a feeling of coming to Florence and meeting up with friends and family for a great time here in Oregon’s Coastal Playground,” said Chamber Executive Director Bettina Hannigan.
For the Rhody Court, this means a new batch of high school seniors and elementary students have been selected from the Siuslaw and Mapleton school districts.
Seven Siuslaw High School students make up the Senior Court this year. Princesses are Thelma Gentry, Lainey Goss, Alex Saindon, Andrea Sanchez and Denielle VanWinkle. The two princes are Trent Reavis and Colby Waters.
For the Junior Court, four Siuslaw students and one Mapleton student are this year’s princesses. They are first-grader Aleeya Thomas; second-grader Jasmine Krause; Mapleton third-grader Abigail Mendez; fourth-grader Kylee Stinger; and fifth-grader Brittney Adams.
The students found out about their placement on the court through a Siuslaw Elementary School assembly right before Winter Break, through a special visit to Old Town Florence and a meeting at Siuslaw High School. Florence Mayor Joe Henry delivered roses to each prince and princess.
The Rhody Court advisers are Jenna Bartlett and Nancy Bosket, along with Katie Libby and Dee Osborne. Wendy Krause and Jared Anderson will produce the Rhody Court Coronation on May 17, with Ned and Alicia Hickson as emcees.
“‘Rhody Rendezvous’ really is a chance to look at traditions,” Bartlett said. “Like we did for the 110th Rhododendron Festival, this year’s Rhody Court will be looking into stories of earlier festivals and sharing those on our site visits.”
In the months leading up to the Coronation and the Rhododendron Festival on May 18 to 20, the court will visit community events, business leaders, senior living centers, youth organizations and civic groups.
Court advisers have dedicated the month of February to readying the students for their interactions with the public.
“We’re working with Toastmasters International and other community leaders throughout the month on things like comportment, public speaking, presentation skills and personal development,” Bartlett said.
Court members will receive one-on-one mentorship, and each Senior Princesses will also mentor one Junior Princess.
The Rhododendron Court program provides scholarships for higher education, promotes community outreach and volunteerism and offers mentoring opportunities in a program that perpetuates an appreciation for 111 years of Rhododendron Festival history and tradition. There are options to sponsor a student.
In addition, the Rhody Court will sell pins featuring the Rhody Rendezvous logo. Proceeds go toward scholarships for Queen Rhododendra, the King of the Coast and members of the Rhody Court.