Goodbye, Miss Princeton. Hello, Princeton Ambassadors.
There are some big changes on the horizon for Princeton’s annual royalty program, starting with a transfer of operations of the organization from the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce and a name change.
Because of dwindling support of the Princeton Chamber members, a new group was sought to run the Miss Princeton program after the 2011 season.
“We needed a director to step up and be in charge of the Miss Princeton Program,” said Mary Chapman, coordinator of the Princeton Area Chamber of Commerce.
After a director failed to step forward, the Chamber board of directors made a motion to cut the Miss Princeton Program from the Chamber, Chapman said.
That decision came with the caveat that if an organization stepped forward with the means to continue the program, the Chamber would help the group obtain nonprofit status and provide it with some seed money for scholarships, Chapman said.
Through that process, a group of former royalty, along with two members of the Chamber board who were active in the program, emerged to carry the program into the future.
What emerged was the Princeton Ambassador Program, a nonprofit, 501c3 operated entirely by volunteers from the community, according to Megan Fraboni, who in 2005 served as a Princeton princess under her maiden name, Megan Anderson.
“This program will be led by past program participants that will build this program into a prestigious, highly-desirable recognition awarded to mature, young women of our community,” Fraboni said.
Heather Johnson, the 2005 Miss Princeton, and Kelsi Anderson, who with Fraboni was the other 2005 princess, have joined with the former Chamber Miss Princeton program’s Genny Reynolds and Lori Gram and parent Brenda Skaalerud to make continuing the program a reality.
There are many exciting changes to the program that will benefit the young women of the community and also, the city as a whole, Fraboni said.
“Some of the exciting changes will be that this program will provide the young women of the community with a strong, structured curriculum focused on personal growth and development,” Fraboni said. “All candidates running for the Ambassador role will attend formal communication and etiquette classes to prepare them for the duty of representing Princeton at other communities.”
And instead of crowning two princesses and a Miss Princeton as was done in the past, three young women will be selected as equal Ambassadors and will receive equal scholarship amounts, she said.
Other changes include the Princeton Ambassadors working with Princeton businesses, the development of a Little Miss Princeton program and the opening up of the program to participants beyond Princeton’s boundaries.
“We hope to fully partner with local businesses to promote the niche offerings that Princeton has,” Fraboni said.
The Little Miss Princeton event will take place on Saturday, May 12. Girls ages 5-12 can preregister through Reynolds and the cost of this participation is $13.
No preparation is needed from the girls or family before. On May 12 the current royalty and candidates will spend an afternoon with the Little Miss Princeton candidates. They will have lunch together, teach them to wave, do their hair and show them how to walk on stage, Fraboni said.
“The winning candidate will get to attend and be introduced at the Princeton Ambassador Pageant,” she said.
The winner will be welcomed on stage and introduced. They will also get to ride on their own float during the Rum River Festival Parade. In addition, the winner will receive a tiara to take home. This isn’t a yearlong commitment, but rather an opportunity to attend the Princeton Ambassador Program and participate in the parade.
The program will also reach out to women from beyond Princeton for the first time — including those in Zimmerman, Pease and Milaca, Fraboni said.
“We’ve heard people in those communities say that they like our program, so we’re offering more women with the opportunity for advancement in personal and professional growth,” she said.
“This is a real exciting time for the program,” Fraboni said. “This gives us an opportunity to rebuild from the ground up and have an organization run by passionate volunteers,” she said.