Angelina Dillon chosen as 2018 Chief Leschi Daffodil Princess

Angelina with Jason and DeAnn Dillon, proud of helping raise such an outstanding young woman. PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANGELINA DILLON

Chief Leschi senior Angelina Dillon has been chosen as the school’s 2018 Daffodil Princess, an honor well deserving of this outstanding young woman. Active in many aspects of her tribal community and a dedicated student as well, Angelina represents the best of Chief Leschi both in her demeanor and commitment to making her school proud as she journeys through the busy Daffodil months ahead.

“I’ve always known about it from when I was younger, and I loved the idea of being the Princess,” she said. “This is another way for me to help out with my community and I knew that, so I thought it would be great for me.”

The Daffodil Royal Court is made up of 23 senior ladies from participating Pierce County High Schools. Throughout their year with the Festival, Princesses gain many invaluable lessons and experiences, developing public speaking skills, tact and poise while also gaining self-confidence through the interactions they have with their community. This means that Angelina has a busy next few of months ahead of her where her Daffodil commitments are concerned.

Princess Promenade is first up on Sunday, Feb. 18 at Pioneer Park Pavilion (330 S. Meridian, Puyallup). Doors open at 2 p.m., program begins at 3 p.m.; light food and drinks will be served. Princess Promenade kicks off the official reign of the Daffodil Festival Royal Court for each Festival year, and serves as not only the first full Court appearance, but the first opportunity to see the Court in their yellow gowns and tiaras. As the celebration and inauguration of each girl as an official Daffodil Princess, Princess Promenade calls the family and friends of the Court to be their honored guests for an evening of old tradition and newfound friendship, as well as a whole lot of fun, as the Princesses perform their appearance song-and-dance routine for the first time.

The Queen’s Coronation is next (time/place to be announced) where the Daffodil Queen is crowned. The 85th Annual Daffodil Parade is April 7, traveling through Tacoma, Puyallup, Sumner and Orting. Then the Junior Daffodil Parade will be on April 14 hosted by the Proctor District of Tacoma and geared to children by encouraging the growth of creativity and fun in even the youngest. Costumes, pets, music and non-motorized floats make this parade a very special event. The Daffodil Princesses will be there to kick things off by leading the Parade and sticking around to watch all of the other entries perform, too. Finally, the Tacoma Yacht Club hosts the Daffodil Royalty and dozens of yachts and marine vessels for the Daffodil Marine Festival and Parade on April 15. Beginning at the Tacoma Yacht Club, near the Point Defiance Ferry Terminal, the parade continues along the waterfront to Thea Foss Waterway in Downtown Tacoma, which makes for more than one beautiful place to stay dry landside to watch the parade and enjoy the Festival’s beautiful day on the water.

In between these main events, the Princesses will make appearances and take part in community service activities such as reading books to youngsters at Pierce County libraries. Even in the summer months, the Daffodil Princesses are still working, as they travel to many out-of-town parades carrying the title of Official Ambassadors of Pierce County, as bestowed on them by the Pierce County Council.

Visit www.TheDaffodilFestival.com to keep up with all that the Princesses are up to this spring.

Angelina (right) with 2017 Chief Leschi Princess Tallia Campbell on the night of Angelina’s selection.

TRADITIONS IN BLOOM

This year’s Daffodil Festival theme is “Traditions in Bloom,” and this was reflected in Angelina’s speech to the Princess selection committee, which she was required to give as part of the selection process along with answering an impromptu question.

“I was going to write about my culture and how I keep the traditions,” she said, “but I ended up turning into a more personal thing because I am adopted and it turned into how I’m blooming with the family I’m with. I’m a better person than I was when I was younger.” Her full speech is as follows:

Traditions In Bloom

When I heard that was the topic, I got nervous because there are many things I could talk about, but today I am here to talk about my past.

When I was younger, I always wondered when I would feel love or have security like other kids.

You see, I am adopted.

Memories of my early childhood were like that of a bouncing ball. I found myself always asking, “Why didn’t they want me?” I felt lost and alone so I bottled every feeling and emotion up.

When I was around eight years old, I was blessed with a foster home that soon became my forever family but before I found my forever home, my tradition was one of abandonment and longing.

July 24, 2014 was a day I will NEVER forget! Not just because I had a permanent home now, but because that day I found two important things thanks to Jason and DeAnn Dillon. I finally had loyalty and support with my new forever family.

Today I stand before you knowing my fragile past and looking at my bright future, which is now rooted in love and acceptance and because of that I know I can do anything I put my mind to.

My name is Angelina Dillon and I am blooming.

Angelina’s great-grandfather was longtime Puyallup Chairman Herman Dillon. When the selection committee asked her whom she admired most, Angelina proudly spoke her great-grandfather’s name.

“I said it was my sapa because he fought for our Tribe and he was always there for us,” she said, recalling fond memories of the stories that Herman Dillon would tell of traditional Puyallup tribal life. She was unaware of just how widely loved and respected her great-grandpa was until she saw the huge turnout of mourners at the Tacoma Dome for his memorial service. “I didn’t know how big my grandpa was to the Tribe until he passed. I just knew him as my grandfather,” Angelina said.

The positive influence that Herman and the rest of her family has on Angelina is apparent in that she loves her Tribe and culture and she’s actively involved in keeping her Tribe strong. She is an ardent advocate of preserving Lushootseed and passing it on to future generations. She’s been studying Lushootseed consistently and she enrolled in the Lushootseed Language Institute last year at UWT. “I was the only high school student who took it,” she said. She enjoyed that she was able to take the class with adults and study the language more deeply, building on the foundation she learned at Chief Leschi. Lushootseed class is her favorite because it includes learning about Puyallup culture in addition to the language.

Angelina is treasurer of the Puyallup Tribal Youth Council, plays for Chief Leschi softball and volleyball, and she’s on the yearbook team as a photographer. When she has “free time” she’s enjoying it with her big family – nine siblings ages 4 to 17 years, some of whom are adopted like Angelina.

“We don’t see each other as some of us are adopted. We’re all very close and protective of each other,” she said. Angelina dearly loves her twin sisters, who are deaf, and they have led her to learn ASL (American Sign Language), which she wants to study in college. “My twin sisters really had a huge impact on my decision of what I want to do in the future,” she said. “They kind of helped me pick out my career path because I want to be able to help them. Like if they want to go to a tribal event, I can interpret for them and others who may have lost or are losing their hearing and know ASL.”

The Royalty program benefits the Princesses in many ways, from developing the confidence and poise necessary to speak in front of a crowd, to learning how to organize their time to fit everything into an incredibly tight schedule. They learn social graces that will enable them to feel comfortable in many different situations, because the Festival caters to the benefit of many different viewpoints that build the County the Princesses serve. They have the opportunity to meet and interact with people of all ages, economic levels, and different lifestyles, from local community and government leaders, to children from all areas of Pierce County. Most importantly, they build a lifetime of beautiful memories, shared with 22 other young women experiencing the magic of the Daffodil Festival right alongside them.

“I’m very open to helping out anyone who needs help. I like doing community events, dinners and dancing at the powwow. The music is very good medicine,” Angelina said. She has sage advice for other young women, too, who are her age and looking to reach their dreams.

“Keep your head up and keep pushing yourself – achieving for yourself. You can get there if you don’t give up on yourself. Something I’ve suffered with is asking for help but asking for help is really good and something you want to do. If you’re stuck or lost, ask for help.”