Puerto Rican princess Ciara Gomez was crowned 2009 Lorain International Festival queen Thursday night at the Lorain Palace Theatre.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Gomez said backstage. “I was in total shock.”
She probably shouldn’t have been. Gomez is extremely active in her Hispanic church, South Lorain’s Sacred Heart Chapel, where her mother is the secretary.
“They do so much with the community, especially the Puerto Rican community, so I help out. Every function they have I’m there,” Gomez said.
Gomez’s crowning is even more special because Puerto Ricans are this year’s spotlight nationality. Only once before in the International Festival’s history — 1994 — has a princess from the spotlight nationality been crowned queen.
Gomez is just the second generation of her family to be born in the continental United States — all four of her grandparents came from Puerto Rico.
She lists her favorite Puerto Rican foods as arroz blanco (white rice) y bistec (steak) with tostones (fried green bananas) and pernil (roast pork).
Her costume is a jibaro, or peasant farmer, dress — a low-neck peasant blouse and a long, full, green cotton skirt.
The term jibaro signifies the hardworking, independent and wise residents of Puerto Rico’s countryside and mountain areas, where her family came from, Gomez said.
The first half of Thursday’s pageant consisted of each princess introducing herself, then strolling the stage while a pretaped introduction played. After an intermission, the princesses performed in an extensive talent portion, which wasn’t judged.
African-American princess Mariah Sledge was first runner-up, German princess Brianna Lindway was second runner-up and Hungarian princess Amanda Buchs was third runner-up.
Gomez, who lives in Lorain, is enrolled in Early College High School (her home school is Admiral King). When she graduates in 2010, she will also be graduating from Lorain County Community College with an associate’s degree.
She plans to attend Wright State University in Dayton to pursue physical therapy.
Gomez has wanted to be an International Festival princess since she was a child and calls past Puerto Rican princesses “incredible role models for me.”
“Every year during the International Parade, I would always tell my mom I couldn’t wait until I was able to be an International princess and hopefully win the title as queen,” Gomez said.
And now that she has?
“I can’t wait,” she said about the year that lies ahead.
Contact Rona Proudfoot at (440) 371-0792 or email@example.com.
Watch the talent portion of the princess pageant at www.HispanicOhio.com.