July 2, 2007

A revitalized Delano Royalty Organization

Sarah Fleming named Miss Congeniality Wednesday night

By Karrah Anderson
Staff Writer

They are back and ready for a fresh start.

The Delano Royalty Organization has been restructured and is implementing its new goals and missions with a fresh group of girls.

Six girls are running to become the 2007-08 ambassadors of Delano this year under the new leadership of the volunteer committee of the Miss Delano Organization.

Sarah Fleming, Kelly Amundson, Kayla Gravdal, Sarah Stoddard, Brittany Boorse, and Emily Hutter are the six candidates this year, with Fleming being named Miss Congeniality at a meet the candidates event at the Delano Middle School Wednesday evening.

The “Miss Delano” program has been a staple feature in the history of Delano for the past 39 years.

Each year, three women are crowned – two as princesses and one as the queen of Delano. These women are specifically chosen to represent the community of Delano by volunteering their time through traveling to other communities around Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin.

The ambassadors are crowned July 3 every year, and ride in the Fourth of July parade in Delano. As representatives of Delano, the girls help inform other communities of the Fourth of July festival and other things about the Delano community.

The girls serve for one year, and receive a scholarship for their participation as royalty to help them further their academic endeavors.

Within the last year, the Delano Royalty Organization has been transformed, implementing some fresh ideas, as well as keeping true to tradition that has lasted so long within the community. The organization has created a mission statement to aid in providing the community as well as the candidates a clear notion of the organization’s intent.

Its mission statement is: “The Delano Royalty Organization provides programs and community outreach activities in connection with the Delano Fourth of July celebration.

“The Delano Royalty Organization offers individuals unique growth, volunteer and educational experiences with a focus on leadership, and the opportunity to serve as positive role models.

“The Delano Royalty Organization is dedicated to the development of a scholarship opportunity and to fostering friendships and connections between surrounding communities, our own community, and its businesses.”

This mission statement was established early on when the committee decided to restructure the way it functions. Different members of the committee have taken leadership over specific areas of the program in order to provide closer attention to specific tasks.

The program now has someone who specifically coordinates candidate events and someone to help with the float maintenance. The organization is comprised of over 30 volunteers, who focus on supporting the royalty and their families throughout their year as ambassadors.

“We’re improving communication in general – between the organization, royalty, and their families,” commented Kelly Brouwer about the updated program.

The organization looks forward to expanding its program in the future, suggesting there may be a Junior Miss program or other ambassador- related additions.

“We are in the candidate phase of the program,” Kathy Swart said, adding that the intent is to eventually expand the program. Swart handles a lot of the public relations for the organization, working closely with community members in order to keep them up-to-date with the program and its ambassadors.

Restructuring the program does not mean that it is all brand new. The organization has tried hard to keep true to the traditions set in place throughout the last 39 years in order to preserve its authenticity. The restructuring of the program has been more of a logistical transformation than conceptual.

“We looked at the different traditions and questioned which ones were effective,” Swart said, asking if the traditions make sense for the program. “We’re pushing to support the girls after their crowning – financially and with transportation.”

The community has responded to the program’s revitalization in a positive way.

The organization has received support from many local businesses, allowing the program to function more smoothly. The increased support has allowed the program to improve the scholarship benefits received by the newly-crowned royalty.

The girls crowned will receive a scholarship of increased value at the end of their reign, as well as a year membership to Full Circle Fitness, a free teeth whitening at Susan J. Magraw Dental, and Holiday Express gift cards, to name a few.

The six candidates this year have had a unique opportunity to participate in the transformed program. Erin Klinker, a former 2004-05 Princess of Delano, is a new addition to the committee, specifically coordinating candidate events.

Klinker has organized new events this year for the candidates, including a Princess Party at Peppermint Twist and participation in the Delano Jazz Festival.

The candidates have appeared at various community events, and will continue to do so until their coronation Tuesday night. They attend these events at their own availability, aside from two events in which they are observed by the judges.

“I have enjoyed spending time with my fellow candidates, as I’ve gotten to know other girls in my hometown that I hadn’t really known prior to this competition,” said candidate Sarah Fleming. “It’s been a blast going out into the community to serve others, while at the same time, developing the rewarding skills I wouldn’t have obtained otherwise.”

With a mission statement to pave the path of their new journey, the Delano Royalty Organization will establish new traditions in Delano, while keeping true to the patriotic tone of the Fourth of July festival.

The ambassadors crowned for 2007-08 Tuesday night will be a testament to the hard work the volunteers on the committee have put forth in the last year.

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