Local Focus: Tournament of Roses Princesses Visit Newport Beach

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Julie-Ann Ulcickas (center) and the Tournament of Roses Royal Court
Julie-Ann Ulcickas (center) and the Tournament of Roses Royal Court

Newport Beach had a visit from royalty last weekend, but the seven visiting princesses were not from some exotic country.

Bluewater Grill was the setting for the first public appearance of the 2015 Tournament of Roses Royal Court. The court and court committee arrived at Bluewater Grill via Duffy boat, and enjoyed a leisurely luncheon on the patio overlook Newport Harbor.

The court princesses, who are selected from a field of over 700 applicants, are all from the Pasadena area, and include Mackenzie Joy Byers, 18, Gabrielle Ann Current, 18, Veronica Sara Mejia, 19, Bergen Louise Onufer, 17, Simona K. Shao, 17, Emily Alicia Olivas Stoker, 17, and Madison Elaine Triplett, 17, who was named Rose Queen several days after the Newport visit.

Among the court committee traveling with the royal court was Mark Leavens, the chair of the queen court committee. He said that the court was announced on Oct. 6, but the Bluewater Grill luncheon was indeed the court’s first public appearance.

“They’ve been taking speech classes, etiquette training, and getting prepared for public appearances,” said Leavens. “Some of the girls have been to Newport Beach, but have never spent a weekend like this where they stay at a home on Bay Island, attend a block party and meet local children, have lunchprincess 2 at Bluewater Grill, and then a formal appearance at Balboa Bay Resort for Sunday Brunch.”

The court was met at Bluewater Grill by Julie-Ann Ulcickas, Mrs. Newport Beach 2010 and the wife of Bluewater founder Jimmy Ulcickas. A former member of the 1988 royal court, Ulcickas has been teaching etiquette to the Royal Court and other groups for more than 20 years.

“I make sure they walk correctly, sit correctly, that they have proper posture—I tell them that proper posture is now part of their life,” said Ulcickas. “We also go over dining skills—they have to understand proper use of utensils, but also a multitude of casual events. They learn that Mr. Napkin is our friend, and that a princess does not lick her fingers. There’s also buffet etiquette, which side to wear your purse on, where to put the name tag, which hand to hold your glass in, proper toasting etiquette. All those things help to make a princess who she is. They are very poised before they come to me, we polish the beautiful gem that they are. They’re chosen for their ABC: articulate, bright and charming.”

Among the many things Ulcickas teaches is the famous parade wave.

“We call is putting wax on and off. The trick is to keep the upper arm at a 90 degree angle, so only the forearm moves and the wrist gently flows from side to side. Then there is the boo-boo wave, when they see little kids on the parade route, they say hi boo-boo and they do the boo-boo wave,” said Ulcickas, lowering her arm to her waist, cupping her hand and moving her fingers.

Among the dining etiquette moves she teaches the girls is how to eat soup.

“As the ships go out to sea, I spoon my soup away from me,” recited Ulcickas as she moved her hand away from her body and back to her mouth.

“A lot of people are under the misconception that this is a beauty pageant,” added Ulcickas. “No way. These girls are accomplished, they have exceptional grades, some speak multiple languages. They can think and act on their feet. They need to act as ambassadors for the Tournament of Roses, and Pasadena, and of Southern California. They embody everything that the American girl is.”

In addition to teaching etiquette, Ulcickas has an etiquette website called urbanityfair.net. Her new book on etiquette will be released in a few weeks.

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