Kelly Walton Crowned Cherry Blossom Queen in S.F.

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From left: Princess Kimberly Sasaki, Princess and Miss Tomodachi Tiffany Okimura, Cherry Blossom Queen Kelly Walton, First Princess Jaime Martyn, and Princess Michiko Maggi.

SAN FRANCISCO — Kelly Yuka Walton was crowned as the 2013 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen on April 13 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas in San Francisco Japantown.

Kelly Walton performing a modern dance.

The 25-year-old San Francisco resident is the daughter of David Walton and Machiko Nakatani of San Francisco. She is a graduate of Lowell High School in San Francisco and Stanford University with a master’s degree in education. Her goal is to become a teacher, principal or politician. Her sponsor is Kagami Kai, a group that preserves the tradition of mochitsuki.

During the creative expression segment, Walton performed a modern dance.

She was crowned by 2012 Queen Asaki Osato.

The new queen received an ornate furisode kimono from the Fujiyasu Kimono Co. of Tokyo, which has supported the Cherry Blossom Festival for decades, as well as air fare and hotel accommodations for a goodwill visit to Japan, including San Francisco’s sister city of Osaka.

Jaime Sachiko Martyn, 24, of San Francisco was named First Princess. The daughter of Thomas and Taeko Martyn of Tokyo, she graduated from Westfield High School and Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in international relations. Her goal is to become a children’s book illustrator and a public affairs diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service. Her sponsor is the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California.

For her creative expression, Martyn did a drawing based on two ideas from the audience.

2012 First Princess Megumi Yoshida was unable to attend.

The title of Miss Tomodachi, which is decided by the candidates themselves, went to Tiffany Seiu Okimura, 22, of Foster City. The daughter of Rickey and Cecilia Okimura of Foster City, she graduated from San Mateo High School and UC Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Her sponsor is Berkeley-based Takara Sake USA.

Jamie Martyn creating drawings on stage.

For her creative expression, Okimura performed a traditional Japanese dance.

She was crowned by 2012 Miss Tomodachi Miki Fukai. The congeniality title can be bestowed on any member of the court, including the Cherry Blossom Queen and First Princess.

The other members of the 2013 Cherry Blossom Court are:

Princess Michiko Marie Maggi, 25, of San Francisco. The daughter of John and Cathy Maggi of Pleasant Hill, she graduated from Acalanes High School and University of the Pacific with a master’s degree in educational leadership. Her goal is to earn her doctorate in the same field and open up a non-profit. Her sponsor is Benihana.

For her creative expression, Maggi presented a film about how her bicultural background shaped her into the person she is today.

Princess Kimberly Miya Sasaki, 24, of San Francisco. The daughter of Gary and Denise Sasaki of San Francisco, she graduated from Lowell High School and UC Davis with a bachelor’s degree in animal biology. Her goal is to become a psychiatric pharmacist. Her sponsor is the Nikkei Lions Club of San Francisco.

Tiffany Okimura performing a classical Japanese dance.

For her creative expression, Sasaki performed a jazz dance.

The program also included a farewell from the outgoing court, including Princesses Manami Kidera and Chihiro Hirai.

Two local broadcast journalists, George Kiriyama of NBC Bay Area and Jana Katsuyama of KTVU/Channel 2, served as emcees.

Candidates are judged on the basis of an interview and essay prior to the event as well as their prepared speeches, the talent segment, and an unrehearsed Q&A session with the emcees.

The new court was introduced to the public the following day on the Peace Plaza Stage in Japantown.

The Queen Program was held during the first weekend of the 46th annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, which concludes April 20 and 21. On Sunday, the 2013 and 2012 Cherry Blossom Courts will participate in the Grand Parade along with Nikkei courts from Los Angeles, Seattle and Honolulu. The parade starts at 1 p.m. at City Hall and ends on Post and Fillmore in Japantown.

Left: Kimberly Sasaki performing a jazz dance. Right: Michiko Maggi showed a film about her bicultural background.

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