Former Miss Delano is half way through reign as Queen of the Lakes
By Ryan Gueningsman
DELANO, MN Dreams keep coming true for former Miss Delano and current Queen of the Lakes Alex Forster.
A recent trip to the Rose Bowl to ring in the New Year was something she has dreamed about for years.
“I have wanted to be there for so many years,” Forster said several weeks after her experience. “It was just so awesome and wonderful that I was finally able to be there. It was everything I imagined.”
The Monday prior to the new year, Forster, along with her Aquatennial Commodore Tom LaSalle and his wife, Michele, boarded a plane and headed west. As soon as they drove into Pasadena, Forster became immersed with the weather, culture, and scenery.
“It was so beautiful there,” she said. From royal receptions, to the world famous Rose Bowl parade, and even a few rides at Disneyland, Forster enjoyed the trip of a lifetime.
“We were just treated like royalty the whole time,” Forster said, adding that a limousine brought them to Disneyland, and she also took part in a welcome reception at Redwhite+bluzz, which is an elegant jazz club.
She shared this experience with other visiting royalty, including representatives from the St. Paul Winter Carnival, Kentucky Derby, and the National Cherry Festival, who Forster said, “kind of adopted me.”
Bandfest, which features the prizewinning bands of the 2010 Rose Parade performing the field shows that made them famous, was also a highlight of the week for Forster, who said she was impressed with the various selections the bands played ranging from “Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)” by Big & Rich, “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts, and “Chim Chim Cheree” from Mary Poppins. One downside of Bandfest was the continuous rain, Forster said.
Local cuisine was also something Forster was able to experience in Pasadena, where she had an “in-and-out burger,” which she said is like a California burger with its special “spread” sauce.
“It was really good,” Forster admitted, but added, “honestly, Peppermint Twist has them beat, hands down. I love what Mike and Vicki (Mirenda) do it was good, but just not Peppermint Twist good.”
The day before the new year, Forster was able to go to where parade floats are constructed.
“It smelled so good,” Forster exclaimed. “It was awesome. Everything is organic. They use lettering, then glue on individual flower petals it’s so tedious and very time-consuming.”
Forster said she helped a little bit by putting several flowers on, and said she hopes to return to the Rose Bowl simply to help in constructing floats and placing flowers.
Before long, the streets were filled with parade goers, many hours before the actual Rose Bowl parade began.
“The parade goes down Colorado Boulevard,” Forster said. “There is a red, rose-colored line that is there so floats can follow that down the parade route. The only way they know where to go is they look down and see the red line and stay in the center. ”
Forster said the night before the parade, the route turns into a “big block party” and said the floats are heavily guarded overnight.
“If everyone takes one flower . . .” she said with a laugh.
New Year’s morning, Forster was up early and they received a police escort to their VIP seating on the bleachers.
“Right behind me was ABC Broadcasting my mom actually saw me on TV in the audience,” she said. While there, she said she looked around to try to spot celebrities.
“I sat next to guy who looked like Denzel Washington,” she said. “It was so intimidating.”
She admits she didn’t have the courage to ask if it was him.
“The parade started and I just cried,” Forster said. “I have wanted to be there for so many years. It was exactly what I expected and more. It smelled really good the atmosphere was so much fun. The parade was just amazing.”
She said, on television, one can see all the different angles of the floats, but said in-person, one notices how much more vibrant the colors are.
Though she still isn’t sure if she sat by Denzel Washington at the parade, she was able to see Jared Fogle from Subway commercial fame, actor Jackie Chan, and figure skater Michelle Kwan, who she was able to meet.
She said a lot of people were tailgating, and said there was food at every turn. Every place she went, she was treated like a VIP.
Following the parade, she was able to take in the football game featuring Ohio State and Oregon in the traditional Big Ten-Pac 10 match up.
“The game was fun, too,” Forster said. She sat on the Ohio State side and was able to sit next to a college football announcer who wasn’t working, but did provide play-by-play updates for Forster.
“They explained the entire game to me,” she said with a laugh. “Right next to him was his son-in-law, who works for Warner Brothers and is the main recruiter for ‘America’s Got Talent.’ It was fun talking with them.”
Forster said, normally, the Queen of the Lakes attends the Rose Bowl every other year, but said some strings were pulled for her to be able to attend this year, as it is not a year the Queen of the Lakes would normally be able to attend.
Other recent royal representation
Forster also served as the grand marshal for the Target Holidazzle Parade in Minneapolis, and also rode in it two additional times.
“That was so fun having that opportunity,” Forster said, adding that she had been there once when she was younger. In addition to being the grand marshal of the parade for its last night, she also rode with the Minneapolis Aquatennial singing group, and also was the princess on the “Princess and the Pea” float one night.
“The last night, it was so crowded,” Forster said. “It was wonderful weather.”
As Queen of the Lakes, Forster has been able to experience many other fun events, including Okoberfest in La Crosse, WI, and attended several other parades.
She also recently met her new commodore and one of the new captains. About midway through her reign as Queen of the Lakes, Forster said, “It’s definitely what I thought it would be, and even more. One of the things I’m really learning is having confidence in myself, not only in mingling and representing, but in public speaking. For me, the larger the crowd, the better.”
Another thing she enjoys, when she is out at an appearance, is meeting little girls.
“One of my all-time favorite things is putting on that crown and going up to little girls,” Forster said. “I love making them smile and showing them if they follow their dreams, they’ll come true, and to believe in themselves and be confident and that they are a princess already.”
Encouraging local girls to run for Miss Delano
Delano Royalty Organization (DRO) co-chairperson Erin Klinkner said Forster has been a vital part of the DRO’s growth this past year.
“With Alex being announced at every event she goes to as ‘the former Miss Delano,’ she has really put our town on the map,” Klinkner said. “With all of her events for the Minneapolis Aquatennial, she still finds time to come to Delano and help out with our local events.”
Several weeks ago, Forster attended the DRO’s pizza lunch with the senior girls at the Delano High School and had many encouraging words for the possible 2010 candidates about the DRO, Klinkner said.
“It is so nice to see her smiling face as you walk in the door of a community event and realize she has not lost touch with us or her appreciation for her home town,” Klinkner said. “With almost as many events as there are days in the year those are just her Aquatennial duties I am not sure how she has accomplished being a full-time student and holding a job, but this just shows you how organized she is as a young woman.”
Klinkner believes Forster has taken all of the opportunities given to her with a very positive attitude, taking everything to heart, being very thankful, learning and growing along the way.
“I’m just so passionate about the royalty program both the Delano Royalty and Aquatennial. It’s such an amazing experience. You gain so much out of it confidence, so many friends, the connections . . . you get to feel like a princess or queen for a year it’s every girl’s dream.”
Forster will continue living that dream at least for six more months.
“I honestly do not know what life is going to bring me after I’m done,” she said looking to her future. “I’ve had a great year-and-a-half of royalty.”
With the titles of Miss Delano and Queen of the Lakes under her belt, a run for Miss Minnesota or participation in another scholarship program could also be in Forster’s future.
“I’ve been thinking about it a little bit,” she said. “This experience the last two years having that on my application can really help a lot, so I might run for something else. I’m not exactly sure. I have thought about it.”
In the meantime, she will continue her duties as Queen of the Lakes, and she said she recently applied to be a resident assistant (RA) at Northwestern College, where she is working toward a ministry/counseling major and a minor in special education.
“My passion is helping people making people laugh, feel comfortable and happy,” Forster said. “I enjoy being a role model for girls helping them and counseling them, especially in a spiritual sense.”
Forster, a 2008 graduate of Delano High School, is the daughter of Dan and Laura Forster of Delano, and represented the community as the 40th Miss Delano in 2008-09.
For more information on the Minneapolis Aquatennial Ambassador Organization, visit www.aquatennialambassadors.com.
For more information on the Delano Royalty Organization, visit www.orgsites.com/mn/delanoroyalty/index.html.