PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Arcadia High School senior Naomi Stillitano was named the 135th Rose Queen at a ceremony filled with pomp and circumstance on Friday.
After being crowned, Stillitano noted that she was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. when she was 7 years old.
"The Rose Parade was the first thing that I saw," she said. "I saw the princesses and queens and I said, 'That could be me one day.'
"So that really inspired me, and it's every girl's dream. Every little girl looks at us and is inspired, so I hope to do the same."
Stillitano and the other six members of the 2024 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Royal Court will attend a variety of community events and serve as local ambassadors before riding in the Jan. 1 Rose Parade and attending the Rose Bowl Game.
The other members of the Royal Court are:
-- Olivia Bohanec, La Salle College Preparatory;
-- Trinity Dela Cruz, Marshall Fundamental School;
-- Phoebe Ho, South Pasadena High School;
-- Mia Moore-Walker, Flintridge Preparatory School;
-- Jessica Powell, Flintridge Preparatory School; and
-- Emmerson Tucker, Blair High School.
"Being on the Rose Court really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Moore-Walker. "When I heard my number called, I couldn't believe that it happened. So it's just an honor to be on the court with all these amazing girls."
The court members were chosen from 28 finalists, whittled down from an original pool of more than 350 applicants from 36 area schools.
Leah Cullen, who served as Rose Queen in 1953, was among those who attended Friday's ceremony.
"Turning around that corner on Colorado Boulevard and seeing those thousands of people witnessing this gorgeous parade -- I mean, it just took your breath away," Cullen said. "It was just wonderful."
Court members are chosen based on criteria including public speaking ability, academic achievement, youth leadership and community and school involvement. All seven members of the court receive $7,500 educational scholarships.
City News Service contributed to this report.