It wasn’t the most conventional way to get crowned.
But at the end of the night, Jessica Carmona is the 2014 Ripon Almond Blossom Queen – a title she’ll carry throughout the weekend before becoming Miss Ripon and carrying that moniker for the next 12 months.
The announcement of her name was overshadowed somewhat by the mistaken naming of another contestant as the winner. The crowd’s reaction when it was corrected was somewhat stunted, but it didn’t throw her off of her game. Nor did it take away her concern for the other queen hopeful that she’s grown close to throughout the entire process.
“I was shocked – that wasn’t what I expected at all,” Carmona said of the botched handoff. “My heart goes out to Francesca and everything she must be going through.
“It’s an honor to receive this title and I’m happy that I’m able to be up here tonight.”
Carmona inherited the title from Anna Fassler – who gave a stirring, emotional goodbye speech that outlined a series of pointers that her successor should take note of. She will represent Ripon at a series of community events up and down the San Joaquin Valley. An extension of the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, Miss Ripon will also be on hand to do things like light the community Christmas tree and make an appearance at Main Street Days – paying a thank you back to the community.
And it’s community that Carmona is most concerned with.
“My goal is to make a difference – I want to get more involved and I want do the little things that make a big difference,” she said. “I learned a lot about this town through this process, and I want to continue that moving forward.
“It’s been an amazing journey and I’m looking forward to continuing it throughout the next year.”
As far as Fassler’s advice goes – she summarized the three tenets as “remember to say thank you, make memories while remaining memorable, and enjoy the ride” – Carmona said that she’s definitely willing to turn to the elder stateswoman when it comes to making the transition into a role that’s more permanent than the one she’s been sitting in.
“She’s been a great help to us and she’s been a great mentor, and she left some big shoes to fill – I hope I can step into those,” Carmona said. “It’s just an honor right now and I know that this is going to be an experience that I can learn from as I move forward.”
Carmona is the daughter of Becky Robles and Anthony Carmona, and she plans on entering the healthcare field after completing her education at either the University of the Pacific, Loyola Marymount University, Santa Clara University, St. Mary’s College of California or Sonoma State.