MUMMY I’M SO PROUD OF YOU

Newly crowned Jacaranda Queen Alana Gor­don set to reign over the leg­endary flo­ral fes­ti­val that has fam­ily and friend­ship at its heart

The Daily Examiner - - FRONT PAGE - Adam Hourigan adam.hourigan@dai­lyex­am­iner.com.au

FAM­ILY FIRST: Jacaranda Queen Alana Gor­don gets a hug from her el­dest son Tyler at Satur­day night’s crown­ing cer­e­mony at Mar­ket Square.

AS NEWLY crowned Jacaranda Queen Alana Gor­don walked off the stage at Mar­ket Square, the first per­son she saw was her el­dest boy, six-year-old Tyler.

“Mummy, I’m so proud of you,” he said as he gave her a big hug.

Ms Gor­don said the am­bi­tion to be part of the Jacaranda quest had been a long-held one grow­ing up in Grafton.

“I have wanted to run for queen my whole life,” she said.

“But life got re­ally busy. I have three beau­ti­ful chil­dren now, and I’m 29 next year, so it was now or never.

“This is just un­real, amaz­ing, I didn’t ex­pect it at all.”

Ms Gor­don said, af­ter grow­ing up in Grafton, there was a magic about Jacaranda time she wanted to be a part of.

“Jacaranda just ex­cites me. Peo­ple change around Jaca time, they get ex­cited and come to­gether and ev­ery­one gets happy,” she said.

“I am so ex­cited now for the pres­sure just to be off and to be able to en­joy the events with the girls.”

Ms Gor­don paid trib­ute to her mother, hus­band and chil­dren for their sup­port through­out the fes­ti­val, as well as her spon­sor the Vil­lage Green Ho­tel, and her work at Tel­stra where she is a busi­ness spe­cial­ist.

Adding to her big night, Ms Gor­don was also an­nounced as the high­est fundraiser of the seven can­di­dates for the fes­ti­val, rais­ing $23,077.91. She said she wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent for her events, in­clud­ing hot air bal­loon rides across Grafton.

“I be­lieve that peo­ple want an ex­pe­ri­ence and a mem­ory, and I wanted to do some­thing that hadn’t been done.”

Ms Gor­don wasn’t alone in ex­press­ing shock at hear­ing her name, with Jacaranda Princess Emilee Wall ad­mit­ting on stage she hadn’t re­hearsed her ac­cep­tance speech, while thank­ing the com­mu­nity for the sup­port she had been shown.

Ear­lier in the evening, it was a mix­ture of tears, shock and hap­pi­ness for Holly Blun­dell as she was named Ju­nior Jacaranda Queen. “It was very over­whelm­ing – I was a bit shocked at the start, very teary, and it just turned out to be amaz­ing,” Holly said.

“I’ve been part of Jacaranda all my life, from per­form­ing at Vene­tian car­ni­vals, pa­rades, it was just the right thing to do.

“The crown feels very weird, but I’ll get used to it soon.”

Holly said she was hon­oured and look­ing for­ward to spend­ing time dur­ing the week with the newly named Ju­nior Jacaranda Princess Tahlia O’Hara and the other girls.

“We’ve all be­come best friends,” she said.

The se­nior can­di­dates raised $58,098.66 dur­ing their can­di­dacy, with the ju­nior can­di­dates adding just over $14,000 to the Jacaranda cof­fers.

PHO­TOS: ADAM HOURIGAN

ROY­ALTY: Jacaranda princess Emilee Wall and Queen Alana Gor­don con­grat­u­late each other af­ter the an­nounce­ment.

Stu­dio One dancers per­form the tra­di­tional Homage to the Crown at the Jacaranda Queen crown­ing.

2016 Jacaranda Queen Sharni Wren re­nounces her ti­tle at the crown­ing.

EX­CITED: Ju­nior Jacaranda Queen Holly Blun­dell and princess Tahlia O'Hara.

2016 Jacaranda Princess Heidi Madsen re­nounces her ti­tle.

The 2017 Ju­nior jacaranda can­di­dates face the crowd ahead of the of­fi­cial an­nounce­ment of the ju­nior queen and princess.

Jacaranda crown­ing MC's De­san Pa­day­achee and for­mer Jacaranda Queen Nikki Cousemacker.

Jacaranda Guest of Hon­our Pat Con­nelly an­nounces the 2017 Jacaranda Queen.

2017 Jacaranda Ma­tron of Hon­our Pa­tri­cia He­witt is in­vested in her po­si­tion.

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