Archbishop Alexander Sample will give the official blessing for Portland’s Rose Festival.
Royal Rosarian officials say it’s the first time the region’s Catholic leader has been extended the honor.
The event is set for 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at St. John Fisher Church in Southwest Portland.
The blessing also is a memorial for those who have died in the past year from the ranks of the Rose Festival Foundation, Portland Rose Society, Royal Rosarians and the Navy League.
The new court, including princesses from Central Catholic and St. Mary’s Academy, will be introduced to the public for the first time.
There will be music, a ceremonial planting of roses on the church grounds and a reception.
The blessing may be the first for an archbishop, but Catholics have been involved in Portland’s major event since near its 1907 origins.
In 1909, the Portland Knights of Columbus formed a committee to explore how the Knights could participate in the annual festival.
The 1911 Sentinel obituary of Gerhard Heitkemper Sr. explained that the 63-year-old jeweler died while making plans to attend the festival he loved, but which was “not part of the Divine Plan” for him.
For the 1914 festival, Father W.A. Waitt of St. Stephen Parish festooned his motorboat and took a team of altar boys up river as part of the marine parade.
“The boat was beautifully and tastefully decorated with roses, and attracting much attention, caused a great deal of favorable comment,” the Catholic Sentinel reported.
By the 1950s, parishes and other Catholis organizations teamed up to have a float in the annual parade on land.
The first Catholic school girl to be chosen Rose Festival Queen was Sharon Arneson of North Catholic in 1964.
The official listing did not name her school as it would have if she had gone to a public high school, but simply called her an “Independent.”
Maggie Huelskamp of St. Mary’s Academy was queen in 1968 and Kim DiPietro of St. Mary’s won the honor in 1981. By then, festival officials decided to name the Catholic schools.
Later queens from Catholic schools include Stephanie Dir of Central Catholic in 1984, Claudia Reimer of St. Mary’s in 1986, Deanna Connell of St. Mary’s in 1989, Kristin Waldram of St. Mary’s in 1996, Katelyn Callaghan of Central Catholic in 2005 and Kate Sinnott of Central Catholic in 2012.