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Manzano keeps tradition alive

Kari Manzano makes six in her family to serve on court

Call it a family affair.

Kari Manzano is set to serve as one of four princesses on the Sandy Mountain Festival Five Generation Court, but she’s not the first in her family to be chosen. Her mother, Deynee Calvin, was a festival princess in 1978. Then, sister Paula Niska took a turn as a princess in 1989. Next, Niska’s daughters Allyssa and Kelsey Bennett were princesses in 2007. And finally, Manzano’s own daughter, Isabelle, was a princess in 2013.

Still, when Manzano was tapped to be chosen for the court, she was surprised. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: HEATHER FITCH PHOTOGRAPHY - Princess Kari Manzano

“I felt honored,” she said. “I wasn’t expecting it. I’m excited.”

The court recognizes and honors the civic commitments of five notable Sandy women. Special attention is given to a nominee’s volunteer involvements and their community roots. Manzano is the daughter of Ken Hallgren, who founded Sandy Funeral Home in 1969. Born and raised in Sandy, Manzano has seen great changes come to the area. She often points out those changes to her three children — Isabelle, Addison and Ethan.

“The growth is amazing,” Manzano said. “I love sharing the history with my kids. This used to be this, and that used to be that.”

As part of her princess commitments, Manzano needed to select a gentleman to officially escort her through her festival duties; that gentlemen is also inducted into the Royal Order of the Bear.

Manzano chose her husband, Carlos. Each escort is also given a festival name, and Carlos will be “Wine Bear,” which is a nod to the Manzanos’ shared love of wine.

“It’s kind of our thing that we do together as a couple,” Manzano said. “We learn about wine and the history. We study a lot about wine.”

Manzano works part-time at the Sandy Area Chamber of Commerce, handling the First Friday events. She also teaches at Joyful Noise Preschool in Boring. Additionally, she is part of the women’s ministry at her church, Good Shepherd Community Church in Boring.

Her volunteer commitments include the Kiwanis Club, where she is involved with an outreach effort that delivers gifts and food to needy families around Christmas.

She believes service to the community is essential.

“Serving is the best gift that anyone can give,” Manzano said.