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The Neuhaus Gym stage was decorated with masks, ribbons and purple, green and gold feathers on Jan. 26 as beautiful duchesses, family and friends waited for the announcement of the new royal court for the Texas Citrus Fiesta.
The duchesses took the walkway one last time to do their promenade wearing simple, elegant gowns to gowns full of ruffles and layers adorned with beaded accents. They wore gowns of bright reds, yellows, golds, greens and blues. Some duchesses wore pastels of yellow, gray, periwinkle, purple, pink and green. The colors blended with each other on stage to make a rainbow of colors and glittering jewels to go with the Mardi Gras theme of this year’s Texas Citrus Fiesta.
As the pages quietly and slowly left the stage, the duchesses returned to their seats to hear who would get the coveted Queen Citrianna crown. The duchesses became hushed as guards escorted the results to the announcers.
The announcers first presented awards for Miss Congeniality to Duchess of Bluebonnet Yolanda Inez Sanchez. Duchess of Green Pastures Danielle Alexis Vela was awarded as Miss Photogenic.
Then it was time for the new royal court to be announced.
As the announcer called out Duchess of Delta Waters Katy Jo Richards’ name, she hesitated before getting out of her chair and making her way forward to accept the title of Queen Citrianna.
Richards is from Edinburg and a junior at Med High School. She is the daughter of Travis and Shelley Richards.
Richards is a three-year All “A” distinguished honor roll student, a student ambassador and one of 25 students chosen to attend the M.D. Anderson Cancer Research Summer Institute.
She enjoys playing piano and reading the classic literature such as “Gone with the Wind,” “Jane Eyre” and “Pride and Prejudice.”
Richards said she was anxious when she saw the guards walking to the announcers.
“I did not expect it at all,” she said to being selected as next year’s queen.
When asked about her new role and how she felt about the other duchesses she competed with for the title, she said she made friendships that she hopes will last and is looking forward to the time she will spend with the ladies that will be in the court with her.
“They’re all amazing girls,” said Richards. “I can’t wait to have an even greater time.”
Danielle Alexis Vela, Duchess of Green Pastures, was named Princess of Grapefruit Blossom. Vela is a senior at Edinburg High School. She is the daughter of Rachel Mascorro.
Vela is the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show Cover Girl for 2012, president of her FFA chapter and secretary of the Rio Grande Valley District FFA.
She enjoys working and showing her cattle and playing volleyball.
Tess Lanae Varlack, Duchess of Star Ruby Grapefruit, was named Princess of Orange Blossom. Varlack is a senior at Veterans Memorial High School and the daughter of Adrian and Adrienne Varlack.
Bianca Gabriela Garza, Duchess of Cenizo, was named Lady-in-Waiting. She is the daughter of Jose Luis Garza and Imelda Garza and is a junior at Rio Grande High School.
She is a member of the National Honor Society, an Odyssey of the Mind Champion and World Runner-up, and was Miss Texas Sweetheart in the American Co-ed Pageant.
Garza enjoys Color Guard, FFA and is a member of the varsity swim team.
Brandy Renee Sifuentes, Duchess of Honeydew, was selected as the first alternate. Sifuentes is a junior at Mission High School and the daughter of Juan and Belinda Sifuentes.
Sifuentes is a member of the National Honor Society, in the top 10 percent of her class and is a member of the Hidalgo County Cotillion. She enjoys being in Our Lady of Guadalupe Youth Group and playing varsity soccer and volleyball.
Rebeka Renay Lopez, Duchess of Marsh White Seedless Grapefruit, was selected as the second alternate. A senior at Sharyland High School, she is the daughter of Rey and Susan Lopez.
She was the golf new-comer of the year in 2008-2009, the president of the UMYF at First United Methodist Church and is a member of the Hidalgo County Cotillion. She enjoys varsity soccer and volunteering with Special Olympics.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.