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Albany Names Tulip Queen Finalists

The City of Albany has named five finalists for the 2016 Tulip Queen and Court.

Part of an Albany tradition that stretches back nearly a century, the Tulip Queen and her four Tulip Court members are chosen by a committee of local leaders through an extensive interview process. After the Queen is crowned at the annual Tulip Festival, the five young women will spend a full year working together on Albany community outreach programs and educational initiatives. 

Mayor Kathy Sheehan:   "Since its inception, the Tulip Festival, which started in 1949, the tulip Queen and court has evolved from traditional pageantry into a community service program that has enriched the lives of thousands of young children and other people in the Capital Region. So while the Tulip Queen coronation ceremony retains its grandeur and the local history associated with it, the Tulip Queen and court program has become a far-reaching initiative, dedicated to promoting literacy and educational projects."

Nominees must have a strong sense of community, be knowledgeable of the Albany area and its history, and have leadership skills. Eligible nominees are women between the ages of 18 and 23 residing in Albany County for their entire year of reign (May 2016 - May 2017).

Tulip Festival Chair Marcus Pryor:   "We have a selection committee made up of nine people who go thorugh all sorts of interviews with these young women, really trying to understand who they are and how they'll work together as a team."

This is Pryor's 13th and last festival: he's retiring after this year.

Outgoing Tulip Queen Alexandra Cronin says during her reign, she and her court helped more than a hundred Albany kids.  "Not only volunteering at events, but we went to so many reading events, we did two programs when usually they would only do one 'cause we just really wanted to have an impact."

Cronin's mom was on the Tulip Court in the 1980s and nominated her daughter last season.  So who are this year’s finalists?  

The 2016 Tulip Queen will be crowned at the Lakehouse Stage at Tulip Festival on Saturday, May 7 at noon by Mayor Sheehan, 2015 Tulip Queen Alexandra Cronin, and Chad O’Hara of B95.5.

The finalists are:

Samantha Coons, Age 20, Guilderland

Samantha is currently enrolled at Siena College, pursuing a degree in Economics. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her education in Health Service Administration or Economic Policy. She works as a gymnastics coach and as an intern in the New York State Assembly. Samantha is the Volunteer Service Chair for the Siena College Red Cross Executive Board, organizing community service events including blood drives and an annual 5K charity race. She enjoys spending time with her family and working on DIY craft projects. Her goal as a member of the 2016 Tulip Court is to empower and encourage children through literacy programs.

Shannon Moquin, Age 19, Albany

Shannon is a sophomore attending The University at Albany, working towards her degree in Public Policy. Shannon works as a counselor at a YMCA summer camp every year. She is involved in a variety of community service organizations, including Habitat for Humanity and Big Brothers Big Sisters. She volunteered on a service mission to Haiti, where she taught reading and math at two orphanages. In her free time, Shannon enjoys traveling and going to the movies with her sisters. As a member of the 2016 Tulip Court, her goal is to create an initiative combining literature and geography, teaching children about different cultures around the world.

Mariah Rickard, Age 22, Cohoes

Mariah is a junior Economics major attending The University at Albany. Mariah works in at Kidz Korner Child Care Learning Center in Latham. She has volunteered as a camp counselor, a tutor for area high schools and at the Community Plunge Program in Ithaca. She loves camping, hiking and roller derby, and is the founder of the Nerf Club at UAlbany. As a member of the 2016 Tulip Court, Mariah hopes to design a program that encourages children to write and illustrate their own stories to promote imagination, self-esteem, and self-expression.

Racquel Saddler, Age 23, Albany

Racquel is currently a first-year student at Albany Law School. She graduated from The University at Albany with a degree in Political Science. Racquel has worked as a White House intern and locally in the New York State Senate and the Schaffer Law Library. She has volunteered at the Pine Hills Neighborhood Cleanup for the past four years. She enjoys singing, dancing, running and yoga. Racquel’s goal as a member of the 2016 Tulip Court is to implement a literacy program that benefits local children and the community at large.

Adaviah Ward, Age 21, Albany

Adaviah is a Liberal Arts major at Hudson Valley, planning go on to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. She is working locally at the Lexington Center. Adaviah volunteers regularly with Albany Community Charter School and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church. She enjoys spending her time reading, journaling, singing in choir, and working with her church’s youth group. Adaviah’s goals as a member of the 2016 Tulip Court are to help develop educational programs for kids outside of the classroom, and to act as a mentor and role model for the community. 

The 68th annual Albany Tulip Festival takes place May 7 and 8 in Washington Park.   For more festival information call 518.434.2032 or visit www.albanyevents.org.

For more information on the Albany Tulip Queen & Court, visit www.albanytulipqueen.com

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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