For 130 Years, the Tournament of Roses has been an annual tradition for the city of Pasadena, which started as a small event to promote the city’s charm and beautiful weather. It has since grown to become one of the biggest staples of the USA’s New Years celebrations.

For the last 101 years, the Pasadena Rose Parade has crowned a queen, whom is bestowed with the honor of the Royal Court and is featured on her own float. The competition to be part of the Royal Court is open only to applicants of 24 Pasadena area schools. In the interview process, the candidates are evaluated based on public speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership, community and school involvement.

Among the 1000+ candidates for the honorary title this year, the winner, Louise Deser Siskel, is the first queen representing the lGBTI community, the Jewish community and even the first queen who wears glasses (according to her).

“I entered on sort of a whim,” she told the Pasadena Star News. “But as I continued to return for the interview rounds, and throughout the whole process, I realized the value of the Tournament of Roses, and the role it plays in our community,” she said.

‘What was important to me throughout the interview process was that I was completely transparent about who I was, about the things that I value, and about the things that I advocate for’, she told the paper.

Siskel is a senior in high school and is considering pursuing a career in medicine after studying breast cancer under Dr. Shehla Pervin at The Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science. For her final message as queen…

“I encourage everyone to stay engaged and active within your community, advocate and fight for the things you believe in, regardless of whether other people respond or care about those things in the way you do,” she told the local paper.

“I think it can be easy to get discouraged when people don’t share the same passion for your values or for the things that you care about, but I hope that people continue to fight for the things that are important to them, regardless of the support they see from others.“

By Dirk Smith