By JASON CAMPBELL
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
Taylor Ray packed as much as she could into the last 11 months.
After getting crowned as the 2011 Almond Blossom Queen in February of last year – a title that becomes Miss Ripon once the duties of representing the community start to be fulfilled – she didn’t wait to get settled in or take her time to gain a foothold as the events started to come.
Time has been known to fly by when a good time is being had, and Ray wanted to soak up every minute that she had with the crown and sash.
And she’s going to miss having the title as she turns it over next month to one of nine Almond Blossom Queen candidates that made their first public appearance at the Spring Creek Country Club Thursday Night.
“As cliché as it might sound, I’m going to miss representing Ripon – being the face of Ripon,” said Ray – who graduated from Ripon High School last year. “It was so much fun learning about people and the community and seeing behind the scenes and everything that goes into it.
“That was by far my favorite part.”
Throughout the year she worked closely with Ripon Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dorothy Booth – who retired earlier in the month – to appear at business functions, chamber events, ribbon cuttings and out-of-town events.
It was an occurrence at the Modesto Christmas Parade, however, that will stand out in her mind as the single most memorable event of her tenure.
“There was a little kid that came up to me and asked if I was really a Queen,” she said with a laugh. “It was so cute and it was something that I know I’m not going to forget anytime soon. Those are the kinds of things that make it special.”
Over the next five weeks Ray will work with the nine girls vying for the title and offer assistance any way that she possibly can – encouraging them to persevere even when things get difficult and helping during the fashion show and the highly-anticipated Coronation Ceremony where her successor will ultimately be chosen.
But focusing on the finish line, she said, takes away from the experience, and she encourages each of the young ladies to take it in while they still can.
“I would tell them all to be themselves and be true to themselves no matter what,” she said. “It’s important to remember that you’re always representing Ripon. I wish them all the best of luck.
“And I thank the Soroptimists and the Ripon Chamber for everything that they did. It was definitely an exciting year.”