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Franklin High senior chosen 2011 Portland Rose Festival Queen

by: David F. Ashton Queen Lamarra is crowned.

Everything in the historic, annual Portland Rose Festival leads up to the Queen's Coronation - followed by the Grand Floral Parade.

And, for the young ladies - this year's Portland Rose Festival Princesses - the tension mounted in the dressing room at Memorial Coliseum as they arrived at the early hour of 7 am, until the beginning of the Queen's Coronation at 8:30 am.

The princesses came out individually as announcers introduced them and told the assembled crowd which school they represented. Each princess was then asked to tell about her favorite Portland Rose Festival experiences.

Cleveland High School's J'Reyesha Brannon smiled that providing community service was most memorable to her. 'One of my favorite trips was to the Portland Police Bureau's Sunshine Division, where we helped pack food. It was fun working together, and doing something to help people have food that they otherwise would not have.'

'I've already had dozens of great experiences!' exclaimed Franklin High School's Lamarra Haynes. 'The Starlight Parade was a very special experience for me. I actually lost my voice from calling out to the people along the route. The next day my friends helped me out by saying, 'Lamarra says hi; she has no voice'. It was just really great.'

When the sealed envelope was opened, the 2011 Queen of Rosaria was revealed as Princess #12: From Franklin High School, 17-year-old Lamarra Haynes - selected to reign over the mythical 'Kingdom of Rosaria' for the following twelve months.

Immediately after her coronation, Queen Lamarra spoke with reporters prior to the start of the Portland Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

'I am a million times excited right now,' she began, adding that she really didn't expect to hear her name called. 'I knew any one of us would be great. I was surprised to hear my name. I really was.'

Although she said she kept telling herself not to cry, she said she couldn't help shedding some tears before she regained her composure.

About her own road from princess to queen, Lamarra said, 'I've definitely grown as a person. We go to places where you smile and interact; this has never been easy for me. My dad always works with me on smiling, as have our chaperones. So, I've been learning to smile as I talk.'

Queen Lamarra went on to reveal the personal meaning this new role has for her. 'It means that I can offer something to the city that is now mine. I was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but I've lived in the City of Portland for nine years. The city has taught me how to accept all different kinds of people, and to accept myself.'

About the Rose Festival Princess program being 'more than just a pageant', she said, 'It's a bunch of very smart girls coming together. We all share our high school experiences; at this time of life, it's kind of an awkward stage. We are all seniors - enrolled in college in the fall. We will be leaving and pursuing different walks of life.

'But this is a great time we have together and with our families, and it has been a big growing experience.'

Queen Lamarra plans to attend a four-year university with a major in criminal justice and a minor in visual art.