Queen Rachel seems pretty relaxed for royalty. As the current Queen of Rosaria, she reigns over the annual Rose Festival, Portland’s ebullient celebration of spring. The Grant High School student body president speaks with the poise you would expect from a Queen; but mention Kuma, her golden retriever, and her voice rises with a teenager’s eagerness.
“I used to be afraid of public speaking,” she laughs, “but not anymore.” Considering that Queen Rachel recently traveled to Kaohsiung, Taiwan as Portland’s representative to our sister city, it’s no wonder that her public speaking has improved.
Each year, in a tradition that hearkens back to may poles and spring rites, Portland elects 12 young women as our Rose Princesses. The Rose City celebrates our thorny namesake bursting into bloom with the Rose Festival, a multi-week celebration that includes a waterfront carnival, parades, a Starlight Run, and of course, flowers.
The 12 Rose Festival Princesses – one from each of the city’s major high schools – are all accomplished students, athletes, and community leaders. During the school year, they perform community service projects and serve as ambassadors of the city; in return, they gain a stipend for college and a wardrobe fit for Cinderella.
Queen Rachel – a track athlete, swimmer, student government leader, and member of the Japanese-American student society – has found time to balance school with her queenly duties. “It’s been an honor and a great year,” she says.
We asked Rachel where she lays down the scepter on her days off. Here’s what she said:
1. The Waterfront Esplanade. “On a sunny day, I love running or biking on the esplanade. It’s a great place because it’s where everyone goes; not just a certain type of person. Everyone goes to the Esplanade to exercise or just enjoy the river.”
2. NW 23rd. “I definitely love the culture on that side of the river. I especially love gelato at Mio Gelato.” 838 NW 23rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97209 503-241-9300
3. Biking across the Willamette River. “I like to cycle across the Steel Bridge, or the Broadway because it goes right into the Pearl. We take for granted all the trees, but I was in L.A. recently and it was so dry. Portland is so green.”
4. Rose City Golf Course. “I love our neighborhood. Right when the sun rises over the golf course, it’s spectacular.”
5. Jim & Patty’s Coffee Shop. For breakfast or just for a cup of coffee, Jim & Patty’s on Fremont is my favorite. They make the best coffee cake in the world.” 4951 Northeast Fremont Street, Portland, OR 97213. (503) 284-2121
6. Bagel Land. “My dad used to hitch us on the back of his bike and bike us there. I’ve been going there my whole life.” 4118 Northeast Fremont Street, Portland, OR 97212. (503) 249-2848
7. Ya Hala Lebanese Restaurant. “When my family goes there we always order the exact same thing: Vegetarian mezza and lamb shank, and it’s to die for.” 8005 SE Stark Street Portland Oregon 97215 Tel: (503) 256-4484
8. Rocky Butte. “At night, with the lights, I love looking over Oregon and being able to see the outline of the Columbia and lights on the highway.”
9. Sauvie’s Island. “It’s outside of Portland, but close enough to go…In summer, we pick berries there all the time…and there are beaches too.”
10. Rose Garden and Washington Park. “I got to the Rose Garden a couple times before the Rose Festival experience. My dream is to get married up there.”
11. Grant Park. “I work at Grant Pool during the summer. I’ve basically grown up at the park. It’s the heart of the community for our family; a great place and a great school.”
What local Portland celebrity would you like to see next on 52 Perfect Days? E-mail Caitlin, our Portland Guide and let her know your ideas!
Make sure to check out our past Portland Celebrites! Mother’s Bistro & Mama Mia Trattoria Chef and Restauranteur Lisa Shroeder, Pro Snowboarder and owner of Windell’s Academy and Camp, Tim Windell and the renowned drummer and bandleader Mel Brown.