Celebrating with her mother the excitement of becoming a member of the Tournament of Roses Royal Court was the most memorable experience during the selection process for Cole Fox, a senior at South Pasadena High School.
Every step of the way, being among 617 applicants from 45 Pasadena area schools, to be a finalist in the top 25 and ultimately earn a coveted spot with six other young women to represent the prestigious organization, her mom, Rachel, has shared her daughter’s elation.
“How proud she was of me, really made me happy,” said a smiling Fox, joined by the 2020 Rose Queen and Royal Court at Monday’s Oneonta Club annual Holiday Dinner at the South Pasadena Woman’s Club. “When we got our congratulatory emails (as part of the process in eventually becoming one of six princesses), I kid you not, she was on the floor yelling, ‘oh my gosh.’ That just made me really happy. Seeing how proud she was just pushed me forward in the process. She has always supported everything I’ve done. I love, love, love getting the support from my mom, my family, my grandparents across the country. Just knowing I was loved and supported by everyone is my favorite part.”
Fox was on stage following dinner, answering a series of questions from Oneonta Club member Joe Payne, seated next to fellow princesses Michael Wilkins from Maranatha High School; Reese Rosental Saporito, John Marshall Fundamental High School; Emilie Risha, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; Mia Thorsen, John Marshal Fundamental High School, Rukan Saif, Arcadia High School; and Rose Queen Camille Kennedy, who attends La Salle High School.
They were queried on everything from telling the crowd a little bit about themselves, what hobbies or pastimes they’re passionate about to what university carries the most interest, along with their field of study and career choice. But when it came time to voice their most memorable experience during the journey that will put them on a float for a ride down the 5-1/2 mile route for the 131st Rose Parade and later 106th Rose Bowl Game, Fox was all over that one.
Fox’s mom, an exuberant person in her own right, won the day rejoicing, along with those closest to her, including Cole’s dad, Robert and two siblings, Harper and Sawyer.
As a senior at South Pasadena High, Fox serves as Associated Student Body senior class vice president, is head of design on the Copa De Oro Yearbook staff, the Student Site Council secretary, a Gold Award recipient in Girl Scouts, a POSSE Foundation Scholarship semi-finalist and highly active in musical theater.
In addition, she enjoys creative writing, painting, vegan cooking, dancing Sudoku puzzles, and hair styling.
When she heads to college next fall, Fox plans to study biology and attend medical school with the ambition of someday becoming a dermatologist. To fulfill her goal she hopes to attend “any school that will accept me,” she said, receiving laughter from the crowd, but won’t rule out her top choices Northwestern, New York University or University of California, Los Angeles.
Among the guests, including South Pasadena Mayor Robert Joe and Councilmember Diana Mahmud, was Laura Farber, president of the Tournament of Roses, joined by her husband Tomás.
Farber, a volunteer member of the Tournament of Roses Association since 1993, was elected to the TOR Executive Committee in 2012, selected “The Power of Hope” as the theme surrounding the parade and Rose Bowl Game to encourage creativity in float entries, marching bands and equestrian participants. “With hope – anything, in fact, everything is possible,” Farber said. “Hope is more than simply the possibility of fulfillment. Hope is dignity and respect, joy and happiness, aspiration and achievement. Hope never, ever quits. Through hope, we can aspire to be our best and in turn inspire those around us to reach higher.”
She added, “The theme has been incredibly well received at a time when our country and world is so divided and we wanted America’s New Year’s Celebration to bring everyone together with Power of Hope.”
Over the years before becoming president, Farber served on and chaired various committees including Decorating Places, Formation Area, Judging and Membership Development.
For a long period over the years, the Queen and Court came to the Oneonta Club’s December meeting, but the cycle was broken until it restarted in 2016. Welcoming those enjoying this year’s festive evening, Oneonta Club President Hubert Ho said he was proud that the TOR was taking part in the event for the fourth straight year.
To have the involvement from TOR, noted Ho, is “a very special to me and the members because it’s a tradition. The Tournament of Roses is so special in the community. It’s a pleasure to have the Queen and Court come and share some of their experiences and their aspirations with us.”
The Oneonta Club, founded in 1923, is men’s social community service organization that meets for dinner monthly and features food, fellowship, singing, and speakers. The signature event comes in May when the club awards three $10,000 scholarships to worthy South Pasadena High School seniors.
Built on tradition, singing is a big part of the gathering as members sing a variety of songs, led by Gary Pia, this time around asking all in attendance to join him belt out some holiday favorites, including “White Christmas,” “A Little Town of Bethlehem,” “White Christmas,” “Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” and “Winter Wonderland.”
Perhaps, in tribute to the Pasadena Tournament of Roses, “Coming Up Roses” from the 1933 Broadway Musical “Gypsy,” was sung before the Oneonta Club song filled the room, as the lyrics “Just sing, sing, sing!” finished it off, prompting smiles and laughter following the lively tune.
Singing continued at Monday’s dinner before the TOR queen and Royal Court took the stage as the Pasadena Girls’ Choir performed, hearing a thunderous applause when they finished. The choir for girls age 7-17 years was founded in September 2017 by director Barbara Allen and will be featured during the holidays in concerts at One Colorado Pasadena and was recently selected to perform on December 24 during a PBS special at the Dorthy Chandler Pavilion.
“I want to give a shout out to the girls,” said Kennedy, the 102nd Rose Queen. “It was a wonderful performance. I hope you all keep pursuing choral groups and musical theatre because that has been my interest, too.”