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    Rose Parade 2024: Meet Naomi Stillitano, 105th Rose Queen, ready to welcome the new year in style
    • December 20, 2023

    A rush of shock and gratitude took over Naomi Stillitano as she was named the 105th Rose queen for the 2024 Rose Parade.

    Stillitano, 17, was named the Rose queen at a coronation ceremony in late October, joining a revered list of royal Tournament of Roses ambassadors.

    It was a dream come true, with a little nudge from mom.

    “It’s every little girl’s dream to be a princess,” she said. “I really wanted to try out, and I honestly did forget about the Tournament of Roses because I was so busy with school, theater, and swimming, but my mom brought it up last year, and she was like, ‘you know, you’re getting to that age where you can apply to be on the Rose Court.’ And I was like, why not.”

    Stillitano was born and raised in Italy, where she lived for seven years before moving to California. The big move was made during the winter, a season in which she was captivated by the Rose Parade – and the Rose Court.

    The “why not” turned into a long process of interviewing alongside hundreds of other hopefuls for the Rose Court. And then came the day when she was named as part of the 2024 Rose Court.

    “I went in there with the intention of having fun, meeting new people, meeting new friends, and getting the experience of being interviewed because that’s a life skill,” she said. “But I came out as a Rose Court member and I was so excited. It was an exciting moment, the best moment of my life.”

    Then another memorable moment happened – she was named the 2024 Rose Queen.

    “Again, (it’s) a moment that you will remember forever and it only happens once in your life,” Stillitano said. “It was an amazing moment and I’m really happy that the six princesses were there with me, too.”

    What being the Rose Queen means to Stillitano is being a leader and taking charge. But she also  sees a role in making sure everyone – in the Rose Court or around her – feels “safe and good.”

    Things have been busy for the teen and her peers.

    The 2024 Rose Queen and the Rose Court attend numerous community and media functions, serving as ambassadors of the Tournament of Roses, the Pasadena community and the greater Los Angeles area.

    Tournament of Roses President Alex Aghajanian crowns the 2024 Rose Queen Naomi Stillitano at the Tournament House in Pasadena on Friday, October 27, 2023. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    Although at times it can get stressful, Stillitano said she was happy to be sharing the moment with the six other princesses on the Rose Court – Trinity Dela Cruz from Marshall Fundamental School, Olivia Bohanec from La Salle College Preparatory, Emmerson Tucker from Blair High School, Jessica Powell from Flintridge Preparatory, Mia Moore-Walker from Flintridge Preparatory, and Phoebe Ho from South Pasadena High School. And creating a strong bond with one another as well.

    As a senior at Arcadia High School, Stillitano is the co-president of the Italian Culture Club, a dancer and actress with the Arcadia Stage Theater, and a swimmer on the Rose Bowl Swim Team.

    “It’s an honor,” she said about representing Arcadia and her high school. “You don’t notice how big of a job this is until you see all the past pictures of the parade and the queens. It’s an honor.”

    It’s quite a legacy to be part of. The first Rose queen was announced in 1905, and for more than 100 years, the Rose Queen and Court have symbolized the heart of the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day.

    Stillitano and the Court also personify cultures that define the Pasadena area, and exemplify character, service, and leadership qualities that the Tournament of Roses is looking for, according to officials.

    But then there’s just life away from the roses.

    Stillitano enjoys playing guitar and piano, singing, traveling, cooking, drawing, roller skating, and bike riding.

    Naomi Stillitano of Arcadia High School reacts as her name is called as a member of the 2024 Tournament of Roses Royal Court at the Tournament House in Pasadena Monday, October 2, 2023. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

    One of her biggest passions is fashion.

    She said a love for fashion runs in her blood. She credits the influence of her mother’s fashionable style and her grandmother being a model.

    “My mom, she gave me her first Vogue magazine when I was 13 and it was my first Vogue magazine, too,” she said. “I’ve been collecting Vogue magazines ever since, and I just fell in love with fashion.”

    Stillitano’s sense of style stood out at the Tournament of Roses ceremony announcing the Rose Court. Standing on the front step, she wore a monochromatic brown suit, with leather pants and a fitted blazer.

    She said her mother, Nerida Gonzalez, gave her the idea to wear pants instead of a dress to her first interview. Stillitano said she wore pink pants and a suit jacket and kept up with the trend for all her interviews.

    “You can be a powerful woman and still wear a suit and be feminine,” she said. “We just tried to keep the suit thing going and that’s how I ended up with the leather pants, because I also love rock music too, and all types of music, so the leather pants kind of flowed into that rock type of style,” she said about her look on the Rose Court ceremony day on Oct. 2.

    Related links

    Rose Parade 2024: James Burton, Sean Ardoin, Amanda Shaw to lead mid-parade performance
    2024 Rose Parade Royal Court announced by Tournament of Roses
    Naomi Stillitano of Arcadia is crowned 2024 Rose Queen

    Stillitano wants some day to create her own fashion brand. She plans to study fashion design and marketing at either the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Milano Fashion Institute, Pasadena City College, or USC.

    The Rose Queen is looking forward to getting ready for the parade on New Year’s Day, when she and her fellow princesses will be prepping at 1 a.m., with music such as Travis Scott and Drake playing in the background.

    “We’re all gonna be so tired but energetic at the same time, because we’re anxious for the parade to start,” she said. “That little moment is going to be such a good bonding moment for all of us, and again that moment only happens once, so I’m gonna try to take it all in and enjoy the moment.”

    Her hopes for the new year? For all her friends on the Rose Court to get into the colleges they want, and to accomplish their goals.

    “I’m just excited to go into the new year being the Rose Queen and being on the court,” she said. “It’s been a great journey… and I’m excited to go into the new year with these girls.”

    WHO: 2024 Rose Queen Naomi Stillitano

    AGE: 17

    HOMETOWN: Arcadia

    WHAT SHE LIKES: Guitar and piano, singing, traveling, cooking, drawing, roller skating, and bike riding, fashion, swimming, dancing, acting

    ​ Orange County Register