The British Queen of Alfaz
Irena Bodnarec interviews Shannon Abbot, the young lady who was crowned local fiesta queen in Alfaz del Pi at the weekend.
A true sign of integration is that a British ex-pat has been chosen to be the town’s fiesta queen, as is the case in Alfaz del Pi. It is a real honour and privilege to take the crown and no one could be more proud than Shannon’s parents Ann-Marie and Damien.
Originally from Cross Gates in Leeds, the family moved to Spain 8 years ago, initially to Albir but now liv- ing in Alfaz. Shannon attends the local institute and is totally bilingual – in fact, she thinks of herself more Spanish than English now, having spent her formative years here. The role of the fiesta queen is a Spanish tradition that is deep rooted in their culture, dating back over a hundred years in Alfaz and this is the first time ever that a non Spanish girl has been chosen.
“It is a life experience that I will truly savour and enjoy over the coming 12 months” said 16-year-old Shannon. She is excited at the prospect of immersing herself in this tradition and has the support of most of the Spanish mothers, who will help her navigate the somewhat complicated rituals, which unfortunately Ann-Marie cannot do.
For starters, she has had to learn to waltz for some of the forthcoming events – which she has taken to like a duck to water. But even more funny and unusual, she has had to practice her wave and smile – there is actually a knack to it! But for any girl – and Shannon is no exception, the real excitement and thrill are the beautiful dresses that she gets to wear, together with a personalized sash, crown and scepter. In total she needs three dresses – her coronation dress plus two more. But what many may not know is that there is no financial contribution to the purchase, which can run into thousands of euros! For her recent coronation she went back to the UK with her mother to purchase her dress – it is totally the girl’s own choice on style. Even her 11-year-old brother Harry was involved in the ceremony, carrying the crown.
However, the other two dresses have to be made to a specific design, although they can choose the fabric, for which they are making a journey to both Alicante and Valencia to source. The quantity of fabric, together with underskirts runs into several hundred alone, and then there is the cost of having it all made up by a dressmaker. For each official event she also has her hair and make-up professionally done – for her coronation she had 62 bobby pins in her head to hold up her hair!
It is certainly financially draining for any parent but the pride certainly outweighs this and Ann Marie couldn’t be more thrilled for her daughter, taking on this coveted role. Her tasks and duties are certainly varied – this coming Sunday she will be presenting a trophy at the golf club in Albir, only wearing her sash, but then the following weekend, it is the Albir fiesta’s when she will be in her full ceremonial dress.
Well done on being crowned Alfaz fiesta queen Shannon – it will surely be an inspiration to many other expat girls here knowing that one day, maybe it will be their turn.