A role taken by few, and respected by many
The sun is shining, the grass is slowly transitioning from brown to green, and before you know it the tulips will be sprouting all around the City of Albany! Conversations will soon begin to transpire all around the Tulip Festival - what performers will be in attendance, which vendors will be present to stop at to shop local, and which food trucks will be back to destroy our diets.
Yet, none of those moments happen to be my favorite. I await 12:00 PM on Saturday when the finalists for the Tulip Queen and Court arrive to the Lake House for the coronation of the Tulip Queen. I am full of hope for the next five young women to step into the role of leaders and mentors for the City of Albany.
It was almost eight years ago when I sat around a table full of strangers being officially introduced to the “Tulip Family.” There were former queens and court members, and a variety of professionals expressing their belief in the history in which this program was created, but perhaps more importantly their belief in the way the program had developed. What once seemed to have been about beauty on the exterior, was quickly changed to be about beauty on the inside - about service and commitment to the community. Specifically, a commitment was made to literacy in the City of Albany. This was a table I was excited to sit at, never imagining the many years of great pride that would follow.
Each week this committee gets together and spends time with young women across the Capital Region. I’m always amazed by how much these young women are doing to make this world a better place - tutoring students with academic needs, building homes in third world countries, raising awareness for diseases - the list goes on and on. These young women are the ones making the change in the world. They believe in the power of a team, as well as the power of one. I’m sure you can imagine as we meet more and more of these amazing young women, how difficult the process becomes to narrow down our group. More than once the selection committee has wished we could have an orchestra of Tulip Queen and Court members. And yet a decision must be made, so heated discussions ensue and eventually a consensus is arrived upon regarding our five finalists. They participate in a slew of events between that initial phone call and the Saturday of Tulip Festival weekend. From the press conference to dress shopping to the Chairman’s Reception, they spend this time getting to know one another and preparing to spend the rest of the year together. The excitement truly becomes contagious! And then we all wait for Saturday at noon.
Look for me this year. I will be standing there in the audience waiting, next to the friend, brother, or mother of each of the five finalists. I will cry as the former Queen says the last words of her reign, preparing to pass the crown and sash to the next young woman to take on this role - a role taken by few, and respected by many. I will look at the five finalists knowing that each of them have qualities that lead them to queen potential, and that each will dedicate their next year to helping bring about change to the City of Albany.
Nicole Sisto is a Tulip Queen and Court Committee Co-Chair, who has served on the committee to choose the next Queen for the past eight years. She has a background in literacy through her work at Latham Ridge Elementary School. You can nominate a Tulip Queen candidate at: http://albanytulipqueen.com/nominate/