For those that have never been involved with Water Carnival, they have a hard time connecting with what I'm about to say. For those that have, you know exactly what I am talking about.
The most amazing thing about the Hutchinson Jaycee Water Carnival is just how close everyone becomes. It is said time and time again that it's like a family - and it really is. I have made some great friends in this group. I just wish I would have been involved earlier. And that's a strong point to make. This festival is run by a group of amazing people. No, you don't have to be a member of the Jaycee's to help out with Water Carnival. You just have to have a desire to help make our community celebration be better each year. The festival is only as good as those helping out.
I want to take a quick moment and just say how much I appreciate everyone involved in putting this together. You all are amazing people. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it.
Now, on to the candidates and the great week we had.
I am pretty lucky. Outside of the "Queen Mom's" (great title btw), I think I am somewhere near the top of time spent with the candidates. My work with them starts in April for their official head shots. A few weeks later in May, we get together for Button Night. Then before we know it, Water Carnival week begins with Music in the Park.
Then the week gets really crazy. Wednesday is all about practice. Thursday is portraits in the park, then they hop on board their boats for the boat parade. This year, I was lucky to have Kristine Leuze (her website) helping out for a few events. I have a ton of respect for Kristine and really appreciate her help this year with the boat parade, parade and coronation.
Friday morning begins my three days of non-stop running. We kick it off with photos out of the limo as they check in to their hotel..then off for an hour of portraits all over Hutchinson. Then off to the local nursing home for a program. Teddy Bear Band in Library Square soon follows. Then it's off to practice again at Maplewood Academy. I quickly run home to upload photos before heading back for the pageant.
Saturday morning I get to spend some time with the Women of the Year and Mr. Hutchinson at their brunch for a quick photo op. Then it's a quick run across town for the Jr. coronation. Then it's off to the Commodore's dinner and Queen's Dance.
It's all capped off on Sunday with a quick photo of all of the visiting royalty and the morning breakfast. We all know about the parade. (Our parade stands out as one of the best in the region.) Then finally off to the Coronation.
Monday morning is the new Queen and Princess official portraits.
Sounds fun, right? I think so.
Even though those last three days are my favorite, the whole time I spend with the candidates is a blast. Why? I get to watch them take the next step in their story, no matter what that ends up being. Each one of them grows so much during this program. I can't recommend this program enough to anyone who is thinking of giving it a try.
Before I go, I want to share something really quick with Bailey and Loraina.
Thank you for putting up with my dumb humor, and for allowing me to be your photographer last year and this year.
I had a great time at our photo shoot in January, even if it was super cold. You both were so awesome to work with.
Bailey, you are a strong young woman, and an absolute gem to be around. We are all very proud of you and what you've accomplished to this point. You have worn the crown well, and represented Hutchinson the way it should be done. Good luck at the Aquatennial! The highest of fives.
Loraina, you are the only princess I have worked with that had a knack for knowing when the lens in heading in your direction. The goofy faces you gave me made me laugh each time! You have shown everyone what it means to be a great princess. You are such an amazing person, I can't wait to see what's next for you. The highest of fives for you too.
You both represented Hutchinson well!
And finally, to each of the candidates.
Each of you should be incredibly proud of how you represented both Hutchinson, and more importantly, yourself. Some of you I have known for awhile, and some of you I have just met. Each of you grew by leaps and bounds during this event, and all of us couldn't be more proud of you! The whole city was behind you the whole way. I hope you came out of this with lifelong friends, and I hope you had as much fun in this experience as we all had with you!
Finally, congratulations to the new royal family! To see the raw emotion (yaaasss!) on your faces as you were crowned made me smile and a bit emotional. I am excited to see where this journey takes you.
Congratulations to Queen Erin and Princess Olivia!
15/10. Would totally recommend getting involved, volunteering, or running as a queen/princess candidate.