The Alpine Mountaineer

Planting daffodils with princesses

This article was originally published in The Alpine Mountaineer October 20, 2022 and was written by Mary-Justine Lanyon (Editor).


Imagine having the opportunity to spend a morning with seven princesses.

Members of the Rotary Club of Lake Arrowhead had that opportunity on Saturday, Oct. 15 when the Tournament of Roses Royal Court came to the mountain to complete a service project.

Kathy Perini, the chair of the Queen and Court committee, had reached out to Bob Mattison, general manager of the Arrowhead Lake Association, asking if there was an opportunity for the royal seven to do some service on the mountain.

“We feel very strongly about service,” Perini said. “We want these young ladies to give back to the community – we want them actually working.

“I wanted to bring them up here,” Perini added. “I always come up myself.”

She was joined by Amy Wainscott, the president of the Tournament of Roses, and a number of other committee members.

The Rotary club offered the court the opportunity to plant daffodils at Rotary Centennial Park in Twin Peaks. “We had already purchased the bulbs,” said Teri Ostlie, who coordinated the project for the club.

Ostlie prepared gardening bags for the seven young women. Each bag contained gardening gloves, gardening tools, a snack, a water bottle and eight daffodil bulbs plus planting instructions.

After distributing the bags, Ostlie told the young women to plant each bulb six inches deep with the flat side down. And, she added, “plant them in a cluster of three so, when they bloom, there will be a mini bouquet.”

Accompanied by Rotarians, the seven young women set to work, planting the bulbs in a variety of spots around the park.

Although the members of the court were only selected on Oct. 3 – after going through a series of rigorous interviews – a camaraderie had already developed among them. One princess, Uma Wittenberg, said that “although we’ve only known each other a couple of weeks, it feels as though we have known each other forever.”

The court, said Wainscott, “is a wonderful ambassador for the association.” She has stayed in touch with past courts. “This sisterhood is an uplifting program,” she said.

This daffodil planting was the court’s first major project. Perini has about 120 activities lined up for the princesses – one of whom will be crowned queen on Oct. 25 – including visits to food banks and schools.

The princesses – Salia Baligh, Bella Ballard, Michelle Cortez-Peralta, Adrian Crick, Zoe Denoncourt, Sahanna Rajinikanthan and Uma Wittenberg – are all seniors in high school in the Pasadena area. Several are class officers, many play sports. They plan to study everything from medicine to environmental engineering, business to law, electrical engineering to economics and finance.

The Royal Court will ride in the Tournament of Roses parade, which will be held on Jan. 2, 2023.