Election 2016: VanEssen, Romano crowned
Viking Days began Monday with the crowning of Mason VanEssen and Katie Romano as homecoming king and queen.
The coronation ceremony, held in the Elmen Center, was emceed by juniors Maggie Green and Katelyn Graber, members of the royalty committee. The Augustana Choir and Augustana Band performed throughout the ceremony as well.
Last year’s homecoming king Brad Ostendorf flew in from Arizona where he teaches high school math. He offered some advice and encouragement to the homecoming court.
“If there’s anything I’ve learned in my long 22 years, it’s that you don’t have to know exactly where you’re going,” Ostendorf said. “You just have to know where you want to be.”
Ostendorf complimented each individual member of the court and stated that each was a great representative of the Augustana community.
Last year’s queen Tori Wilson was unable to attend, but Ostendorf spoke briefly on her behalf. Wilson advised the court to “show that by living in the moment today, tomorrow will fall into place.”
Coronation is steeped in tradition, for both good and bad, depending on one’s point of view.
“If you hate it, it’s tradition. If you love it, it’s tradition,” junior Hannah Norem said.
A new tradition was on display as, like in previous years, technical issues once again plagued video playback, but these issues were quickly resolved. “They handled the mistake well,” senior Kennedi Alstead said.
The video introduced the court and showed the members’ reactions to being named to the court.
Following the video, VanEssen and Romano were named king and queen. They were crowned as the Augustana Choir performed the traditional coronation songs and the Augustana Alma Mater.
“The choir was bomb,” Alstead said.
After crowning, VanEssen and Romano were both invited to offer their thoughts on being crowned. VanEssen joked “I guess I’m going to Disney World,” while Romano offered thanks for “the Augustana family that everyone is fortunate to be part of.”
While coronation is based on tradition, community is a central part of the event and the homecoming week as a whole.
Junior Lydia Simmons said: “Being able to see the Augustana community come together to celebrate a group of deserving students is a great part of homecoming.”
“For me, it’s not so much about the coronation as it is about the community,” Romano said. “Augie has become an incredible home for me over these past years, and last night was as vivid of an illustration of that as I could have ever imagined.”
VanEssen said much of the same.
“So many people of the Augustana community come together to celebrate what makes Augustana such a wonderful place during Viking Days,” he said. “To be part of that tradition is a huge honor.”