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Lilac candidates juggle tight schedule

Thu., Jan. 26, 2012, midnight

If being a member of the Lilac Royal Court is a big commitment with appearances, being a contestant for the court can be just as time-consuming.

The Fab 14 – the 14 young women vying for the chance to be a Lilac princess or queen – all carry around large, thick binders filled with their Spokane Lilac Festival homework for the week: itineraries for appearances – with instructions on what they should wear – notes from classes they attend and much more.

Not only do they have their commitments to the Lilac Festival, but they’re seniors in high school, getting ready for college and participating in school events and activities such as cheerleading, drama, dance team, student government and music; and some of them have jobs.

“We take it out of our sleeping time,” joked Madison McHenry-Kroetch, the representative from North Central High School.

“You have to prioritize your time a lot,” said Alexis Schwartz from Ferris High School.

The candidates have made appearances at First Night, Santa Express, the Women’s Club tea and retirement homes. Their classes have included speech training, self-defense, media training, stress management, modeling and makeup tips. They will wrap up their training with the Royal Coronation ceremony Sunday. Six of the girls will be selected as Lilac princesses, and one will be the queen.

The other seven, or the “Spring Free” girls, will say goodbye to the friends they have made in the past two months.

“We make the time we have left very special,” said Clare Patton, the Spokane Lilac Festival first lady, wife of the festival’s president.

Patton is no stranger to what the teens go through while serving on the court. Her daughter, Wylie, was the 2007 Lilac queen from Freeman High School. As the first lady, Patton has taken on the Fab 14, chaperoning them wherever they go and setting their schedule.

During Sunday’s coronation, each will give a speech based on a quote they were assigned. They select their own gowns, which must be modest and worn with nylons. Lip gloss is required at all times.

The ceremony is part of a full weekend: There is a celebration for friends and family of the candidates Friday and interviews with the judges Saturday at the Davenport Hotel.

After Sunday, the seven top contestants will be known as the Dream and Reach for the Stars Royal Court.

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