Rhody royalty candidates ‘bloom’

By Patrick J. Sullivan of the Leader
Posted 1/27/15

Six high school juniors have entered a competition to represent the Rhododendron Festival, which this year has a theme of “80 Years and Still Blooming.”

Three of the six candidates – one …

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Rhody royalty candidates ‘bloom’


Six high school juniors have entered a competition to represent the Rhododendron Festival, which this year has a theme of “80 Years and Still Blooming.”

Three of the six candidates – one from Chimacum and five from Port Townsend – are chosen as queen and princesses, and receive scholarship money for their time and effort spent representing Port Townsend and Jefferson County on the Pacific Northwest seasonal parade and festival circuit.

The Rhody Fest is staged here May 13-17. The royalty candidates are:

• Morgan Chaffee, 17, is the daughter of Peter and Annette Chaffee of Port Townsend. At school, Morgan is involved in cheerleading and is ASB secretary for her class. Her community activities include coaching at Twisters Gymnastics, and Relay for Life. She also served as a legislative page in Olympia in 2012. After high school, she intends to attend college and become a physical therapist.

• Lillian Kelly, 17, is the daughter of Michelle Paden and Nicholas Kelly. She is a school cheerleader and has been a golf team member. Her community activities include the Centrum Gala, Cake Walk and the Port Townsend Food Bank Senior Day. She is a 13-year participant at the O’Meara Dance Studio. After high school, she intends to earn a college degree and become a physician’s assistant for a pediatric oncologist.

• Deidra Morris, 17 and a student at Chimacum High, is the daughter of Bliss and Lori Morris. At school, she has been a cheerleader, a member of the National Honor Society, We Act Club, Future Farmers of America, and is executive ASB president and a Cispus counselor. Her community activities include being a Little League cheer coach and working at the East Jefferson Little League concession stand. She plans to attend Washington State University to major in communications and eventually become a sports broadcaster.

• Krissy Schmucker, 17, is the daughter of Andy and Anita Schmucker. At school, she is involved in the Java 101 program, and her community activities include the Port Townsend Food Bank, Christmas for Kids, and the Kiwanis Foster Care Christmas program. She enjoys learning American Sign Language and studying foreign languages and cultures. Krissy plans to earn a degree in linguistics.

• Paula Sexton, 16, is the daughter of Jim and Scarlett Blair. At school, she is heavily involved in drama, and is currently raising funds for a drama trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon this summer. Her community activities include serving Thanksgiving dinner at a local church. She intends to become an actress and work for the Disney Corp.

• Sam Smith, 17, is the daughter of Shawna-Kay Cochran, former Rhody royalty. Sam is involved in Knowledge Bowl at school, and her many community activities include 4-H Cat Club and 4-H Leadership, and she is a 4-H State Advisory Board member. She plans to attend college, become a nurse midwife, and eventually advance to become a nurse practitioner. She hopes to use her training to help women in impoverished countries.

Rhody royalty candidates must be a full-time students in Jefferson County, maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher. Candidate scoring has been based on public speaking engagements (30 percent), judge”s interview (30 percent), coronation program performance (25 percent) and candidate coordinators (15 percent).

The candidates learn poise and preparation, in part, through a series of speaking engagements, and each presentation also is scored. The public speaking schedule is: Sunrise Rotary on Jan. 28; East Jefferson Rotary, Feb. 5; Port Townsend Kiwanis, Feb. 11; Port Townsend Noon Rotary, Feb. 24; Soroptimist, March 5; and the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, March 9.

As of Jan. 26, one public speaking engagement date remained open for the week of Feb. 16. An organization or entity wishing to book the royalty candidates should contact Brandi Hamon at

isa.pink.brandi@gmail.com or 360-821-1041.

The royalty coronation program takes place at 5 p.m., Saturday, March 14 at the Chimacum High School auditorium. The coronation program also honors Junior Royalty (first grade), Queen’s Court (middle school) and Senior Royalty (Tri-Area and Port Townsend senior associations).

Fundraising is one of the candidates’ primary duties; at local stores, look for "royalty pin boards," featuring a photo of the candidate, and Rhododendron Festival Association booster pins.

The Rhododendron Festival Association is a nonprofit organization that supports Jefferson County’s oldest community festival, named for Washington’s state flower. Event registration forms are at rhodyfestival.org.

Along with the Grand Parade on Saturday, May 16, the weeklong spring festival includes such traditional events as the Rhody Run XXXVII on May 17 (see

rhodyrun.com), the arts and crafts fair, a pet parade, kiddies’ parade, bed races, Kiwanis fish fry, the Jim Caldwell Memorial Rhody Open golf tournament, Elks Rhody fundraiser pancake breakfast, a carnival at Memorial Athletic Field and more.


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