62nd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court crowned

The 62nd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court from left to right: Miss Popularity Alysha Tanabe, Princess Nicole Ansai, 1st Princess and Miss Congeniality Chelsea Okamoto, Queen Sarah Kamida, Princess Alyssa Fujihara and Princess Cara Tsutsuse. (Photo: Chris Kwock)

A 62nd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court were crowned Sunday at a Festival Ball and coronation ceremony at Sheraton Waikiki.

The event marks the culmination of the 62nd Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the longest, continually running ethnic festivals in Hawaii.

The 62nd Cherry Blossom Festival Queen is Sarah Kiyomi Kamida, a 2006 graduate of Kalani High School and a licensed social worker who obtained her master of social work with concentration in gerontology at University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“The shock has slowly transformed into excitement for this coming year and being able to share the experience with five amazing women on court,” Kamida said. “I have not only increased my cultural competency for the Japanese culture and history, but also gained a greater respect and excitement to help perpetuate this rich heritage.”

The Queen, First Princess and three Princesses are selected by a panel of judges for their dedication to perpetuating Japanese culture, commitment to education and passion for community service. During the festival, 15 contestants experience months of cultural and professional development classes that include Japanese history and business etiquette, bon dance, tea ceremony, calligraphy, taiko, speech and pageant training.

The festival also awarded a $5,000 Violet Niimi Oishi Scholarship to Alysha Tanabe, a contestant chosen for her educational excellence, essay submission and community service involvement.

Throughout their reign, the Queen and Court work to strengthen ties between Honolulu and sister organizations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, and take part in a multi-city Goodwill Tour in Japan. They also participate in several community service projects throughout the state.

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