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Hopeful loves almond blossoms
Erika Alhambra - 2011 Miss Almond Blossom Contestant
RIPON – Erika Alhambra hadn’t even considered joining the Almond Queen Court before a friend suggested the idea.

And now she’s glad that she threw her hat in the ring.

The 17-year-old Ripon High student joins Taylor Ray, Lina Alahri, Samantha Conway, Rebekah Berryman and Shelby Pettus as the six young women vying for the title of 2011’s Miss Almond Blossom.

All seven contestants will appear in Thursday’s 7 p.m. Ripon Soroptimists Almond Blossom fashion show in the Ripon High multi-purpose room. Tickets are $10 and are available from the Ripon Chamber of Commerce.

Alhambra says she’s looking forward to not only that but every other facet of the competition as well.

“I’m just looking forward to representing Ripon in a positive light, regardless of whether I win or not,” she said. “A friend of mine told me about this and I thought it was a great idea because I love putting myself up for challenges and this is definitely a challenge.

“I’m hoping to get as much out of this experience as I possibly can.”

When it comes to school Alhambra is involved in tennis, the California Scholarship Federation, Renaissance and the Girl’s League, and has plans to attend the Gurnick School of Medical Arts when she graduates where she hopes to earn her nursing degree and pursue nursing as a full-time career.

Alhambra volunteers at Kaiser Permanente and at the annual Color the Skies balloon festival and likes to unwind by playing the piano, singing and dancing.

And while she knows that it’s a competition, Alhambra said the best part so far is getting to forge a strong relationship with the other girls.

“I have the most fun when I’m with the other girls – it’s great to be with such a positive group of people, and when we get to meet the Soroptimists and the other people involved with this we all have a good time,” Alhambra said. “I’m just glad that I get the chance to contribute something to this,”

As far as the Almond Blossom Festival goes, Alhambra just has her fingers crossed that the blossoms themselves come out in time for the festival this year – giving her a chance to take in their natural beauty.

“I love being able to see all of the blossoms when they first show up on the trees,” she said. “That and the festival and the parade – it really shows what kind of town Ripon is.”