From Where I Sit

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Taking a slight shift from my standard Elert verbiage this week to tell you a little about what I did this past Saturday. Storms rolled through the valley, heavy rain, bright lightening, thunderous cracks, but inside the Auditorium of the Milton Area High School you could find nothing but poise and preparation as all eyes and ears were on the contestant for the 2023 Milton Harvest Festival Princess Pageant. Here’s my story:
“Oh, the places you’ll go! These are the introductory words written by Dr. Seuss, the author of a book by the same name which was first published by Random House in early 1990. The illustrated story goes on, in poetic, nearly sing-song fashion to talk about climbing mountains, overcoming obstacles, and even refers to a 99.44% chance of success.
This story also happens to be my very favorite part your Chamber’s Annual Young Americans Banquet and Award Ceremony. Each year, my main role on this glorious night is to read this book, it’s a very quick read, to the awardees, their parents, and advisors, as we send them ‘on their way’ as newly minted Young Americans. As ‘marked men and women’ from that day forward. No need to resist a little pomp, on such an occasion.
When my phone rang a few weeks ago and the caller invited me to serve as a judge for the Milton Harvest Festival Princess competition those words, “Oh, the places you will go!” of Dr. Seuss's really rang true. Never did I imagine that I would be qualified to be the judge at a competition that resulted in crowning of a Princess.
In fact, I jokingly suggested to a few of my friends that I felt far better qualified to judge the grand champion tomato than the Tomato Harvest Princess. But lo-and-behold I figured: “Why not?” so I gave it my best shot, and wow, was I ever surprised.
On a rainy Saturday evening, in early September, after a trip north on Route 15 alongside a half-dozen tomato trucks on their way to Furmano’s, seated in the front row of a crowded auditorium, four other judges to my right (including former Miss Pennsylvania USA, Sydney Robertson),  family members and friends, a few hundred community members alike filling in the rows and rows of seats behind us the evening was flawless. Fifteen Milton Area Senior High School Seniors demonstrated and displayed the finest poise, preparation, and positivity I've ever witnessed. In my mind they were all princesses, and each deserved a crown.
But, as it goes with such competitions, only one can be crowned ‘The 2023 Milton Harvest Festival Princess.’ Representing her sponsor, the Milton Public Library, Alayna Chappel is holding her reign over this year’s Harvest Festival. Just one of her duties is leading her court at the Annual Tomato Bowl Football Game. Given her passion for her hometown of Milton, I’m sure that we will be hearing much more from and about Alayna throughout the coming year and for a long time to come.
Should you ever find yourself fretting about the future, or concerned that the youth of today might not be prepared, be equipped with the tools needed to invent the future, I invite you to spend some time with any one or all of the Milton Harvest Festival Princess contestants, particularly Princess Alayna, and I'm sure you will come away from that experience knowing that “Our best days lie just ahead.”
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