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Ripon Almond Blossom

Sweaney earns 2009 queen crown

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Ripon Almond Blossom

Miss Almond Blossom Queen Camila Sweaney, is congratulated on stage by Almond Blossom Princess Kimberley Stenger during Thursday evening's coronation.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED February 27, 2009 5:03 a.m.
RIPON – Camila Sweaney grew up watching the Ripon Almond Blossom Queen hopefuls go through the motions of the traditional pageant, and always knew that she wanted to participate.

Now she gets to be part of the distinct class of crowned queens as she got the nod of the judges after the month-long competition ended Thursday night with a coronation ceremony held at the Ripon Community Center.

“I’m still in shock – I couldn’t believe that they called my name,” a visibly elated Sweaney said just moments after getting her sash and crown. “This was such a great group of girls to spend the last month with, and I’m completely honored and flattered that I was chosen out of such a great group.”

While it was the largest field of queen hopefuls ever – with seven girls vying for the title of Miss Ripon – it was also one that featured an incredible amount of camaraderie between the candidates who supported one another throughout all of their activities.

According to Ripon Soroptimist Shirley Jorgensen, this year’s group was one of the easiest that they’ve ever worked with.

“Everybody seemed to bond almost immediately, and that really made things fun and made the experience that much more enjoyable for everybody,” Jorgensen said. “Plus, this is the first year that we’ve never had somebody that was late for anything – which is quite a feat when you consider that it was our biggest group.”

But while Sweaney might have been shocked that she had been selected, she sure didn’t seem nervous as the rest of the packed building waited with anticipation to hear what name was going to be read.

She helped fluff out the dress of Alexsandra Peralta who was standing by her side. She used her hands to make a mini drum roll on her thighs to break up the palpable tension. And she ultimately threw her hands up over her mouth in disbelief – never thinking that this day would come.

“When I was younger I knew that I wanted to run for it, but I never thought that I would actually win – it was just about being part of the experience,” Sweaney said. “As Miss Ripon I hope to be a role model for all of the younger generations to look up to and someone the older generations can be proud of.”

Kate Ballatore – who also received an award for selling the most raffle tickets – was selected as the first runner-up, and will fill in if Sweaney is ever unable to fulfill her duties for any reason.
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