Newly Crowned Cherry Blossom Queen Samantha Olsen waves during the Cherry Blossom Grand Ball in Arlington, Va., on April 7. (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)

A new cherry blossom queen started her reign at the Cherry Blossom Grand Ball on Friday night. Samantha Olson, originally from South Dakota and a current graduate student at George Washington University, was chosen by the spin of a “wheel of fortune.”

For her coronation, Samantha was adorned with an opulent crown from Mikimoto, made of two pounds of gold, 1,585 pearls and an ermine band.

The 69th annual ball, hosted by the National Conference of State Societies, celebrated Japan’s gift of cherry trees to the United States 105 years ago. After spending the past week together nonstop, the princesses — representing each state, the District of Columbia, territories, Japan, Russia and the Philippines — seemed much more like sisters than rivals. After the formal program, the princesses danced through the night to music by the Rhythm Method Band.


The crown is made with two pounds of gold, 1,585 pearls and an ermine band. (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)

Japan Cherry Blossom Queen Yuki Shimono and 2016 Cherry Blossom Queen Rachel Bohn dance during the Cherry Blossom Grand Ball. (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)

The cherry blossom princesses take the stage before the cherry blossom queen is chosen by the “wheel of fortune.” (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)

Cherry Blossom Junior Princess May Thanh Le looks up at the newly crowned cherry blossom queen. (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)

Newly crowned Cherry Blossom Queen Samantha Olsen hugs a cherry blossom princess. (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)

The cherry blossom princesses have their first dance. (Erin Schaff for The Washington Post)