The 1982 Cherry Blossom Festival queen quickly found that "uneasily lies the head that wears a crown."
Angela Alley, the 20-year-old, 5-foot-3 University of Maryland sophomore who represented Guam in the princess sweepstakes, tottered a bit under the weight of the 5-pound-plus ceremonial crown with its one kilo of 14-karat gold and 1,585 pearls. She was glad to exchange it for a miniature model before joining the dance in the Grand Ballroom of Sheraton Washington on Saturday evening.
A spin of the roulette wheel of states to choose the queen was the big moment at the Cherry Blossom Grand Ball, with nearly 1,000 guests turning out to close Washington's 55th spring festival. They danced, cheered as the princesses from their home states paraded through the archway and listened to the singing of Barbara McNair.
"I'm so grateful that this year's queen also comes from the Pacific region," said Yukika Sohma as she presented a necklace to Alley as a gift from the Japan Cherry Blossom Association.
The 70-year-old Sohma headed the 26-member Japanese delegation to this year's festivities. She is the daughter of Yukio Ozaki, who as lord mayor of Tokyo was among those who arranged the gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States 70 years ago as a symbol of friendship between the two countries.
Alley wore the ceremonial Mikimoto crown for only a few minutes before it was taken back to the vault for safekeeping. She received her miniature model from another queen--Sugako Kugure, who is reigning as the 9th Cherry Blossom queen in Japan. The Mikimoto crown, created by the same craftsmen who work on imperial jewels, was presented to the National Cherry Blossom Festival by the Mikomoto Pearl Co. 25 years ago.
Besides the necklace and miniature crown, which she gets to keep, Alley will enjoy other prerogatives of royalty. She and an escort have been invited for a 12-day visit to Japan April 28 through May 9 to join in several Japanese cherry blossom festivals.
Among this year's princesses, chosen by state societies under their own rules, was Colorado's Kamai Higgins, a blind student at the Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Deaf in Denver. Perri Sundt of Arizona was chosen Miss Congeniality by her sister princesses.
Alley is the granddaughter of Jesus Bamba of Radio Barrigada, Guam. Her father, Boone Alley, lives in Oxon Hill.