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New royalty reigns

A new Red Flannel Queen and court were chosen last Saturday night. Pictured are Kayla Ovokaitys (Court), Queen Tinsley Nulph and Samantha McGahan (Court). Courtesy photo.

There are some great things about this time of year—cooler weather, leaves changing color, football, bonfires, caramel apples—and it’s also the time of year that another young girl’s dream comes true when she’s chosen as the Red Flannel Queen.

According to Red Flannel Festival president Michele Andres, the historic Kent Theatre was sold out for the event last Saturday, September 25. Named as our new Red Flannel Queen was Tinsley Nulph, daughter of Mike and Sally Nulph; and court members chosen were Kayla Ovokaitys, daughter of Thomas and Donna Ovokaitys; and Samantha McGahan, daughter of Alan and Beth McGahan. All the girls are juniors at Cedar Springs High School.

Kayla Ovokaitys also won the award for Miss Congeniality, which comes with a $250 scholarship.

“Pageant Directors Sheila Patterson and Patsy Baar created an outstanding evening with performances by Jake Mellema, 2009 Red Flannel Queen Jenna Johnson and adorable dancers from Dancing Plus,” said Andres. She noted that Zack Carlstrom and Olivia Esquivel from Dancing Plus were also a huge hit.

Grand Marshals Fred and Carollee Gunnell were in attendance as well, celebrating their reign over all Red Flannel festivities.

One of the highlights of the program was a special presentation to the 1941 Red Flannel Queen, Jean Thrall Erickson. Andres said that when Jean was Queen, the Queen passed her crown on to the next Queen, so Jean no longer had one. “This year, the Festival Board recognized Jean with a new custom crown, honoring her and her amazing generosity and volunteerism to the Red Flannel Festival,” explained Andres.

Another highlight of the evening happened during intermission. Pageant Hostess Mary VanderWal (1986 Red Flannel Queen) and Pageant Emcee, Dr. Dave Weinandy, from Aquinas College, offered to each match all scholarship money collected during intermission. $1,500 was collected during intermission, and with the generosity of Mary and Dave, $4,500 was added to the Queen Scholarship Fund in just 15 minutes!

The 20th year of Scholarships was also celebrated, and honored Pat Capek and Dorothy Bishop with beginning the Scholarship Program.

Congratulations to the new Queen and her court! And be sure to stop and say hello to them during this weekend’s Red Flannel festivities!

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