Smith crowned Fourth of July Queen

Months of small-business decisions, pavement pounding, hand wringing and stress culminated on the Evergreen Elementary School stage Thursday evening.

Graduating senior Erica Smith was crowned the Fourth of July Queen. Smith edged second-place finisher Cassie Schilling-Shilts by 3,971 tickets to claim the crown, with 33,471 tickets sold overall. Schilling-Shilts sold 29,500 tickets, followed by third-place finishers Robyn Booker and Kira Torvend who sold 23,080. Delila Wigg sold 22,650 tickets and finished fourth.

“Thank goodness that’s over!” Smith said. “This has been an amazing experience, and now that it’s over I can say I’m glad I did it.”

Smith’s relief – which was shared by the assembled teams and onlookers – stems in part from the sheer effort involved with competing in the queen event.

“This is a lot of hard work,” said Tammi Meissner who helps run the event with several others. “If you’ve never done this before, it is creating a small business within a month and learning how to run that restaurant (if you’re running a booth) and management of your time, management of your booth.”

All of the queen candidates thanked their sponsors – five businesses who contributed $250 each to support each candidate’s run – and volunteer helpers.

“If you don’t run for queen, you may not realize that $250 is not nothing,” Schilling-Shilts said.

She has two younger sisters.

“Hopefully neither one of them runs for queen because I will not be by your side,” she quipped.

Candidates also thanked the community at large and their staffs, an assortment of volunteers and family members. Kira and Robyn thanked their parents.

“We wouldn’t have made it as far as we did without these lovely women,” Kira said. “Thank you to the people of Wrangell, and I love Wrangell so much.”

The event taught a valuable lesson, Robyn said.

“When you do service, you have a good feeling,” she said. “I’m glad I ran for Fourth of July Queen so I could learn the meaning of service.”

Wigg also thanked the community.

“Without my community, I don’t think I’d be here,” she said. “I can’t express enough how much this community means to me.”


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