Daffodil Festival crowns Ashley Becker as queen at annual coronation ceremony

Clouds rolled into Tacoma on Saturday, but that didn’t keep the city’s theater district from basking in the sunny glow of Daffodil Festival princesses at the Queen’s Coronation.

The 82nd annual ceremony highlighted the achievements of 24 princesses from as many high schools countywide who were vying for the queen’s crown.

The cheery ambassadors for Pierce County, as festival officials call them, demonstrated their scholastic and communication skills in front of hundreds of family, friends and spectators at the Pantages Theater on Saturday night.

But it was the newly crowned Daffodil Queen Ashley Becker, the first queen in Bonney Lake High School's history, who stole the show.

Draped in a large cape and wearing her new and improved crown, Becker couldn’t contain her excitement.

"I never would have realized I'd be here a year ago," she said, followed by enthusiastic applause from supporters in the crowd.

The new queen will reign over many appearances throughout the next several months, including the annual Grand Floral Parade on April 11.

The usual effervescence and silliness filled the theater, as masters of ceremonies Chris and Mike Egan bought judges time to deliberate with jokes and impromptu questions of princesses and audience members. They even sang happy birthday to princess Bailey Rasmussen from White River High School.

The royal court took turns reciting speeches about the theme “shine your light with service,” sharing experiences that sparked their fire for serving others.

The young women all pulled from different experiences, but all the speeches were connected by a common thread: servant leadership.

Becker talked about her experience helping a homeless man in Seattle. She said it showed her the love that surrounds service.

“I’ve made it my goal to change the world,” she said in her speech.

To cap off the night, the princesses gathered on stage to sing “Brave” by Sara Bareilles.

Ahead of the show, loved ones filed in and flower arrangements for the princesses piled up in the lobby of the Pantages.

Familiar faces from past festivals greeted one another as the princesses prepped backstage.

Last year’s Daffodil Queen Marissa Modestowicz offered tearful well wishes and thanks as she handed down her title. She echoed what many of the current princesses spoke about Saturday.

“Daffodil is truly all about growth,” she said. “Most importantly, you grow within yourself.”

Other honorees Saturday night included Miss Congeniality, Victoria Ann Tirado from Clover Park High School, first runner-up Rachel Price from Eatonville High School and second runner-up Madison Lindahl from Puyallup High School.