By Jen Bakken and Alexandra Bechtold
DELANO, MN Many little girls dream of one day being a princess, and each year three young ladies realize this dream as they are crowned Delano Royalty.
From parades to festivals to fundraisers and appearances, being a princess may not be all glitz and glamour, yet for the 2008-09 Delano royalty, it has truly been a dream come true.
Miss Delano 2008 -09 Alex Forster
For Miss Delano 2008 Alex Forster, the dream started when she was only 5 years old.
“She would dress up and we would have to sit on the couch,” remembered her mother, Laura Forster. “And call out, ‘Where’s the princess?’ and she would come fluttering out of her room all dressed up and grinning from ear to ear.”
Alex decided to run for Miss Delano because she had always admired past royalty.
When the crown was placed on her, she was ecstatic. “All I could do was scream with joy,” she said, “and thank God for the opportunity.”
Along with all of the gowns, crowns, smiles, and waves, Alex has also been attending Northwestern College in St. Paul, majoring in ministry with a minor in special education.
Being a freshman in college and Miss Delano has definitely kept her busy.
“In the summer it gets extremely busy,” she said. “But when I’m at school, I come home almost every weekend to attend some sort of royalty event.”
Life as a royal mom can be very hectic as well. Laura admits it takes a lot of coordination to get to events on time, and is a group effort.
“I’m usually ironing her outfits,” she said, “while she’s doing her hair.”
One won’t hear Alex complain. The experience of being Miss Delano is something she will cherish forever.
“It is a great honor to be representing the wonderful town of Delano,” she said. “It gives me an opportunity to be a positive role model for younger girls. Being Miss Delano is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it has been so great for me.”
Alex followed in the royal footsteps of her aunt, Karen (Maas) Kolb, and mother, Laura (Maas) Forster, who both ran for Miss Delano.
Delano princess 2008-09 Katie Stevens
Katie Stevens ran for royalty at the suggestion of her aunt, and admits it’s been one of the best experiences of her life.
She was surprised when the crown was first placed on her head.
“I was so shocked,” she said. “All six of the girls were so deserving. After it sunk in for a minute, I can’t even put into words how I felt. It was so amazing.”
As a mother, Brenda Stevens felt numb as her daughter was crowned, and she was overwhelmed with pride.
“Ironically,” she said, “when Katie was little, we could never get her into a dress, much less tights or nylons.”
Attending Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, pursuing a major in math and double minor in music and Spanish, while being Delano royalty has been a commitment for Katie.
Even with all of the parades, events, and volunteering, for Katie, it has been fun.
“The amount of fun and what you gain from being royalty definitely makes the time commitment seem like nothing at all,” she said. “A stronger confidence and better public speaking skills are just a few of the many ways I have benefitted from this program.”
Funny things can happen, even when you are a princess. In Waverly, Katie stood in her gown for a picture, not realizing she was on top of a fire ant hill.
“About 30 seconds later I was covered with fire ants and they were up my dress and biting me,” she said. “I was jumping up and down and screaming. Finally, Alex’s mom helped me. They still tease me about it.”
Katie comes from a long line of royalty candidates. Her great aunt Catherine (Ditty) Kraemer was the first Delano princess 40 years ago, her mom ran in 1982, her aunt Becky (Stevens) Groskreutz was a Delano princess in 1990, and last year her cousins Krystal Gatz and Tiffany Drusch were Miss Howard Lake and a Howard Lake princess.
A unique mother-daughter friendship exists between the Forster family and the Stevens family. Laura and Brenda have been best friends for many years, while Katie and Alex are best friends, as well.
Delano princess 2008-09 Angie Snaza
Angie Snaza’s decision to run for royalty came as no surprise to her mother, Bonnie Snaza.
“The royalty committee did a great job generating interest among the senior girls at that time,” she said.
Although she is a bit of a tomboy, Angie loves being on the float waving to new faces, and seeing the little girls who look up to her.
Angie is attending the University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management where she is working towards a double major in marketing and non-profit with a minor in journalism.
She jokes that one of her favorite parts of her royalty experience has been the free food.
“We’ve gone to banquets with lots of food,” she said. “I’m definitely the tomboy of the three of us. I like jumping off the float, being barefoot, and I can eat a lot.”
She found it surprising how close she became to Alex and Katie, along with their families.
“Also,” she said, “the three of us share a very surprising love for pickles.”
Bonnie is grateful that the royalty committee has done an amazing job of keeping them all on track. She feels many may not realize that it isn’t about being royalty at all.
“It is all about being a great representative of Delano when you are in other towns,” she said. “And that you are helping out the community when the event is here at home.”
Now that the girls have passed down their crowns they will continue their lives with a special place in their hearts for the friendships they formed, the memories they’ve made, and as stronger people because of their royal year.
Speaking from experience, their advice to the new Delano royalty would be to remember that a year goes by fast.
“Don’t let great opportunities pass you by,” said Angie, “because you’ll regret it when it comes time to pass your crown on to someone else.”
They suggest taking advantage of all that is available to them.
“Make new friends and have a blast,” said Katie. “You only get to be royal for one year, so make the best of it. Represent the community of Delano with pride.”
For all those little princesses dreaming of one day becoming royalty just like Angie, Katie, and Alex, Miss Delano 2008 offers some words of encouragement.
“I would love to encourage all young girls to be themselves,” said Alex, “to love who they are, be comfortable with the life they were given, to always remember to be strong in their beliefs, and to always believe in themselves.”