Hanna Kendall will represent the city of Pella as the 2020 Tulip Time Queen.

Molly Bolt, Ellie Roorda, Courtney Chaplin and Jocelyn Gritters make up the 2020 Tulip Time Court.

“This feels amazing,” said Kendall after the announcement. “I wasn’t expecting it. It feels good to know that the community thinks that I’m worthy to represent us, and I am really proud that I can be the one that gets to educate everybody about Pella.”

Hundreds filled the Pella Christian High School auditorium for the Tulip Queen Announcement Party on Nov. 16, where 12 young women competed for queen and her court. Each finalist gave a three minute presentation that offered a glimpse into their lives, demonstrating their own unique personalities.

Kendall was second to take the stage, presenting “The Book of my Life” through four chapters: Toddlers and Tiaras, Middle School, Finding my Way and the Blank Pages. Kendall’s biggest dream is to become a writer, and she hopes to have her books in Barnes & Noble or on the New York Times bestseller list.

“I hate to leave you guys on a cliffhanger, but most of my future is unwritten,” said Kendall. “But, don’t worry. I know that whatever plan the big guy has in mind for me, I’m ready to take on the challenge with open arms and a big smile.”

Kendall thanked her brothers, drama teacher Mrs. Jones and the community of Pella for the significant impact they’ve made on her life:

“To my brothers: thank you for teaching me to be a strong, independent person by shooting me with Nerf guns and letting me put dresses on you. To Mrs. Jones: thank you for teaching me to be myself, and that being myself is the best that I can be. And thank you to the town of Pella. Even though most of my future is unwritten, I know that I always have a place where I am welcome and I belong.”

When asked about her most memorable experience, Kendall cited the moment she hugged her father for the first time after he came home from a tour in Afghanistan.

“I will never forget the moment that they said, ‘You are released,’ and I got to go up and hug him for the first time in almost a year,” said Kendall.

Kendall said she is most proud of a flash-fiction piece she wrote in creative writing about a soldier seeing a bullet coming towards him. He begins to recount memories in his life, like his first kiss. Right when the reader thinks his time is coming, the bullet flies past him.

“It reminds me that maybe if you think something is coming to an end, there’s always something coming next for you,” said Kendall.

During her presentation, Bolt said that if she had a Dutch Letter for every time someone asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she believes she could give each audience member at least one.

Bolt said her father, sisters and mother suggested she pursue a career as a banker, golfer, beautician or a position in the medical field. Bolt said she is unsure what she will do in the future, but she loves socializing and meeting new people. She cited being a Duchess and dancing with tourists as one of her favorite aspects of Tulip Time.

“The joy on their faces is something I will never get tired of,” said Bolt. “I may not know exactly what I want to do when I grow up, but I do know that God has it all planned out. This gives me comfort knowing that even though I don’t know where I’m going, God will be there with me through it all.”

Roorda said she loves to run during her presentation, contemplating what her shoes would say if they could talk. Her shoes have experienced many trials and tribulations during races, including losing a shoe in a puddle of mud. Roorda said she ran the last leg of the race with one bare foot.

Roorda used her running shoes as a metaphor for her journey through life and facing challenges that test her faith.

“As the [cross country] season progressed, I was constantly disappointed because I never ran as fast as my personal best,” said Roorda. “My running shoes would remind you that I can push past those frustrations one step at a time. Every day, I face challenges that test my faith. However, all it takes me to push past those challenges is to trust that God is my Shepherd. He is the lamp unto my feet, and the light unto my path.”

Chaplin began her presentation by singing a verse in “The Sound of Music”: “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A, B, C.”

From there, Chaplin demonstrated the “ABC’s” of her life, saying her dream is to be an elementary teacher.

The letter “A” stands for activities, which include dance, soccer, mission trips, tennis and music. The letter “B” stand for beliefs, and Chaplin said her belief in Christ guides her life.

“I found that if you truly want to learn something, teach it to others,” said Chaplin. “My experience teaching children about my faith has confirmed for me that Christ gave me a heart for teaching.”

For Chaplin, the letter “C” stands for community.

“I enjoy serving in Pella, whether it be singing in nursing homes, teaching preschoolers or volunteering at my church’s food stand at Tulip Time.”

Gritters took the stage with her hiking shoes and a stethoscope, describing herself as an explorer and her love for travel. She told the story of the most difficult hike of her life during a family trip through seven national parks and her experience on a medical mission trip to Romania.

Gritters said exploration can also be seen through her hobbies and passions, such as dancing and theatre, and her relationship with God.

“Theatre continually teaches me empathy,” said Gritters. “Each character I am, I truly become them in words, actions and thoughts. I get to explore things from a new perspective and step into someone else’s shoes as I play a part in a story that they create.”

In addition to presentations, finalists were asked about their activities, interests and experiences, along with an impromptu question from Emcee Tom Vander Well. 2019 Tulip Queen Olivia Vander Leest and her court made an appearance and thanked all those who have supported them throughout their time as reigning queen and court.

Pella’s 85th annual Tulip Time is set for May 7-9, 2020.

Emily Hawk can be reached at ehawk@pellachronicle.com or by calling the newsroom at 641-628-3882.

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