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Albany Crowns 2021 Tulip Queen To Lead Year Of Service

Albany named its 2021 Tulip Queen Sunday at a ceremony in Washington Park.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan introduced the city's new Tulip Queen:   “I am pleased to announce that our 2021 Tulip Queen is Ashanti' Bishop."

The 21-year-old Bishop, from Latham, is a junior at the College Of Saint Rose where she studies Early Childhood and Special Education. She says she and her Tulip court embrace the opportunity to serve the city.

“This is an absolute honor. I mean, the five of us have made such great relationships. And it really truly does represent all that we have to offer to the city of Albany as young intelligent women. So this means to us that we do make a difference in this community, and that young women specifically have a purpose here, and that we're determined to make this place better for us.”

Traditionally, the queen is named during Albany’s Tulip Festival held over Mother's Day weekend. For the second year in a row in its 72-year history, the celebration was stymied by COVID-19, but despite interruptions and postponements, city officials kept the program blooming.

“I think that with everything, with our numbers winding down, we're hoping that we can reach out to the community more in person. Our last two weeks of the 2020, they did an amazing job working virtually to reach out to our community as best as possible. We got a lot of people engaged while the rest fundraisers and all of our drives so we're hoping that we can step in person and also get some of that online community mix it as well.”

The Tulip Queen and her court serve as Albany's Ambassadors for one year. 2020 Albany Tulip Queen Kaya Rifenberg-Stempel noted the pandemic presented several challenges.

“It was really interesting. I'll say that. The past year was kinda tough for everyone. I guess it was different than I expected because I was kind of hoping we get to do more in person events, but I understand why we didn't, obviously, we've got to be safe. Like we were still able to do some in person things, like we did do a literacy program in November, which was nice. But we really didn't have as many events as past year, past courts did.”

Nonetheless, Mayor Sheehan says the online community gave the court’s endeavors a boost.

“The Tulip Queen and court are really important with respect to fundraising for a number of our not for profits in the region. They do a lot of work raising money for cash for coats, but they were able to do it virtually, they did a phenomenal job. We had the highest level of donations to cash for coats this year. Even though it was virtual, you know, we were really concerned about it, because normally they go to the Palace and they stand out in front during shows and they're able to get donations that way, but you know, they were able to be creative and raise money virtually do a few things in person, and they really stepped up and did an amazing job.”

Bishop and her four court members, 22-year-old Aadya Kaushik , 20-year old Sierra Liotta, 20-year-old Allison Moser and 18-year-old Andrea Thomas plan to immerse themselves in community service and literacy advocacy initiatives.

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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