Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Aug. 7, 2000

MacKenzie Strei: a smile on my face, a tear in my eye

Greetings, Winsted, I am your 1999-2000 Miss Winsted, MacKenzie Marie Strei.

I am 19 years old and have been born and raised on a farm in Winsted Township. While growing up, I attended Lester Prairie Public School and worked part-time waitressing at the Blue Note Supper Club and as a human resource assistant at Lester Building Systems.

I am returning to Ridgewater College this fall as a sophomore and will be graduating in the spring with a degree in liberal arts. I then will be transferring to Minnesota State University-Mankato where I will pursue a degree in human resource management.

"To love what you do, and feel that it matters, how could anything be more FUN or REWARDING?!" - unknown

On Aug. 8, 1999, I was crowned the new ambassador queen, with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye. I was ready to begin my journey, with no idea where the path would take me.

What I did learn, quite quickly, was that my journey could not be paused, stopped, or rewound, so I needed to take each of the 365 days I was given and make the very most of them, before they were gone.

Over the course of the last 12 months, my path has taken me to uncountable, unforgettable places and it is hard to name favorites, but the ones we developed the closest relationships with were our wonderful neighbors: Cokato, Howard Lake, Delano, and Waverly.

Another meaningful trip was our venture to Minneapolis, where our very own Sarah Behrens sparkled at the Queen of the Lakes pageant. Hundreds of people there felt the warmth and character that Winsted possesses.

I look forward to my turn to represent our town next summer, when I get to carry Winsted's spirit with me at the 10 Best Days of Summer.

Despite countless parades, coronations, and luncheons, we even had time from our busy royal schedules to play a little trick on this year's candidates. I bet none of them were expecting to be woken up at 3 a.m. on a Saturday morning with squirt bottles and four hyper ambassadors jumping around their beds, but I think breakfast at Perkins made up for it. I only hope that the attitudes the girls gave us aren't the same ones the judges see!

And now, to think this voyage is almost over. I look forward to our one last stop this week at Cokato and then, I welcome our Legion Days festivities to arrive, but only if someone can help me keep them in slow motion so I can savor the final three days of my reign ­ August 11, 12, and 13.

I hope to see all of you out and about this weekend, especially for the pancake breakfast, grand parade, and, of course, the queen's coronation, where I will crown the new Miss Winsted, who will take her first step onto her path, with a smile on her face and a tear in her eye.


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