By Lindsay Carey
Hostess Nicole White was crowned queen at the Apple Harvest Festival’s annual gala, which is the unofficial kick-off to the festival.
Being named queen helped fulfill a goal for White, who has looked up to the position since she was a little girl.
“When I was younger and saw the girl with the crown, I always wanted to be her,” said White. “It’s amazing that I have gotten to the point where I can inspire little kids like that.”
According to Hostess Coordinator Alyssa Pappas, it takes a strong and friendly personality to be named hostess queen. To help, a panel of judges decide on a queen, there is a question and answer portion of the evening for and the hostesses were asked questions like what the festival means to them or how they would describe the festival to someone who has never been.
“We really want to see their personality come through,” said Pappas.
Apple Harvest Festival Coordinator Jim Champagne said that personality was exactly what made White stand out among the others.
“She was just alive every minute that she volunteered,” said Champagne. “People gravitated to her; the seniors at the Elks dinners just loved her attention.”
White said that for her being queen is about service. The hostesses served pasta dinners at the Elks Club just before attending the Music on the Green throughout the summer. They also helped out during other events like the Taste of Southington, the Italian American Festival and the Bristol Mum Parade.
“You have to care about your community,” said White. “[Being] queen is just my last way of giving back. It just shows that when you just stick through all the years of doing the little things to help out, other people can see that.”
However, the gala is a night to not only to acknowledge the queen, but to also celebrate all of the hostesses and their community service efforts.
This year’s Miss Congeniality was Sarah Palko and the runner up for the crown was Alexa Taylor. The other hostesses are Marissa Sisco, Nicole Fischer, Megan Palumbo, Katie Spangholetti, and Jennifer Wong.
“This is my first year completely taking over the program and I could not have asked for better, more enthusiastic girls,” said Pappas.
Pappas said that they were all always willing to help when needed and were reliable about showing up to all the different events that make up the festival.
The annual gala is a night that sponsors, committee members, and town residents look forward to every year, because it bumps up the anticipation for Apple Harvest Festival.
“This is really the opening ceremony to everything,” said Pappas.
Chris Palmieri, co-chair of the Supervisory Committee, recognized all of the sponsors and Champagne recognized the committee chairs, whom he said combined have over 200 years of Apple Harvest Festival experience.
“It’s really the synergy of all of us working together that make the event the success that it is,” said Palmieri.
By Lindsay Carey