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A surprise addition at St. Paul Park Heritage Days royalty coronation

St. Paul Park's Heritage Days royalty includes two princesses for 2011-12, rather than one as in years past. The new Heritage Days royalty includes (from left) Kelsi Hall, Heritage Days princess: Savannah Nitz, junior miss Heritage Days; Haley Sklenar, Miss Heritage Days; Shannen O'Ryan, Heritage Days princess; and Eraceli Mendoza, junior miss Heritage Days princess. The coronation Monday night concluded this year's Heritage Days Festival. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

For the first time in the history of the Miss Heritage Days royalty, there will be two princesses representing St. Paul Park for the coming year.

At Monday's night's coronation, held in the Park High School Auditorium, three candidates were competing for the Miss Heritage Days title. When the candidates were on stage, holding hands for good luck and waiting for the decision, it was announced by Jim Domeier, who shepherds the royalty to civic events each year, that the Heritage Days committee had decided to crown Miss Heritage Days first instead of naming the Miss princess, as in past years.

After Haley Sklenar was crowned Miss Heritage Days, Domeier said that both Kelsi Hall and Shannen O'Ryan would fill princess roles for the coming year.

Eraceli Mendoza was crowned Junior Miss Heritage Days princess and the new Junior Miss Heritage Days is Savannah Nitz.

There were also two other changes this year in that the young women are no longer competing in a "pageant" but a "coronation," according to Cassie Bahl, Miss Heritage Days coordinator.

There was also a shift in age groupings with the junior miss age moving from 10 to 13 to ages 13 to 16 to help the girls in the two groups grow closer and form strong mentorships and friendships, according to Bahl.

After the coronation, at a reception hosted by the Park-Port Lioness Club at American Legion Post 98 in St. Paul Park, Sklenar said she ran for junior miss and lost the year before her sister, Carley, was chosen as junior miss princess for 2007-08.

Sklenar, a Park High School senior, said she decided that year that she would compete for Miss Heritage Days when she was old enough.

The youngest of the three candidates at 17, Sklenar didn't think she would win this year.

"When I have a goal, I try to reach it," said Sklenar, who was also named Miss Congeniality. "I thought if I didn't make it, I would still have made some new friends."

Savannah Nitz said she was surprised and excited to be crowned Junior Miss Heritage Days after competing twice in Cottage Grove pageants.

"It wasn't quite the same this time," she said. "This one was better."

The Minneapolis Aquatenial royalty awarded its commodore award to the Richard Dingle American Legion Post for its contributions to the south Washington County area.

The St. Paul Winter Carnival royalty honored the outgoing Miss Heritage Days royalty, Domeier and Mark and Jody Nordman, parents of three daughters who are former royalty, for their support of the program,

The Nordman's daughters, Britni, Chelsey and Alyssa, honored their parents with a special plaque.

Brittany Olsen was honored, as a junior miss contender, for selling 300 Heritage Days buttons.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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