Mayor Kathy Sheehan introduced the five finalists for Albany Tulip Queen at Washington Park Wednesday.
It’s part of an Albany tradition that stretches back seven decades. Sheehan says the finalists were chosen by a committee of local leaders based on their community service backgrounds and leadership skills. "While only one of these young ladies will be crowned queen, these five women will work together as a team throughout the next year."
The finalists are Sawyer Cresap, Xavia Francis and Elizabeth Stenard of Albany, Natalie Joseph of Guilderland and Katherine Donnelly of Latham. Sheehan says "All five will become educational ambassadors for the city of Albany and throughout the region during their year of reign."
Tulip Fest begins May 12th. The Tulip Queen will be crowned at noon that day on the Lakehouse Stage in Washington Park. "While the Tulip Queen coronation retains the grandeur of our decades-old local history, the Tulip Queen and court program has become a far-reaching initiative, dedicated to promoting literacy and educational projects throughout the region," said the mayor.
Tulip Queen nominee Sawyer Cresap: "The 70th annual Albany Tulip Festival begins on State Street on Friday, May 11th with the traditional Dutch 'street-scrubbing.' Mayor Sheehan will lead a procession from City Hall and read the official Tulip Festival proclamation kicking off the weekend's festivities. Immediately following the street-scrubbing, the Tulip Festival Luncheon at Hilton Albany will honor 2017 Tulip Queen Ashley Loggins and her court on their last day of reign."
Julianna Rauf says the year went by quickly: she and the other 2017 court members were just as busy as the queen. "It was an amazing experience. It was a lot of work, a lot of time. We did nearly a thousand hours of work collectively so far and we still have more within the next two weeks. So I'm not prepared to leave, but I'm really happy to pass down the legacy to five amazing girls who will be part of 2018."
Tulip Queens and their courts traditionally immerse themselves in community service. Mayor Sheehan added "On Wednesday we're kicking off the Tulip Week a little early. We're having a special reception in the rotunda at City Hall of an incredible exhibit that was created in Nijmegen and is being shipped over here and will be on display in City Hall."
The Albany-Nijmegen Sister City Exhibit, “American Friendship From Across the Ocean,” debuts May 9th from 6-7:30 p.m. Sheehan says the commemorative event honoring the city in The Netherlands is free and open to the public. "The Albany-Nijmegen friendship began when this city, very generously, donated building materials and supplies to our sister city of Nijmegen to help them rebuild after the war. And as a thank-you, we received a crate of tulip bulbs, and the following year, Mayor Corning proclaimed this coming weekend 'Tulip Festival Weekend' and the Tulip Festival' began."
That crate of tulips launched Albany’s signature social event.
- For GPS directions to the main park entrance, use 1 New Scotland Ave, Albany NY 12208.
- Free handicap parking available at Albany Medical Center Parking lot off Robin Street. Access Washington Park via continuously running, free handicap accessible CDTA shuttle during festival hours.
- Mayor Erastus Corning declared the Tulip Albany's official flower on July 1, 1948.
- Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands designated the "Orange Wonder" as Albany's official tulip.
- The first Tulip Festival was held on May 14, 1949.