With unbridled enthusiasm, Mary Ann Harper accepted the sash of El Dorado Rose 2011-12 last June.
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Her cheery countenance, offset by lovely pastel colors and a signature hat, was diffused with joy when her reign was announced. Tears of happiness competed with Harper’s kind, ever-ready smile as the royal recognition was presented during the Rose Pageant last year.
Harper, 68, of Shingle Springs, was sponsored by the Shingle Springs Community Center. While she has been exceedingly busy all year, she is looking forward to the Rose Ball Saturday, May 19 from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the American Legion Hall Post 119, 4561 Greenstone Road in Placerville.
There will be a light dinner, dancing to a live band and no host bar. This year’s candidates: Rose Mary Lewis, the American Legion; Sandy Kowalski, the Hangtown Grange; Claudia Bethke, Gold Country Retirement Community; and Sharon McDavid, the Placerville Shakespeare Club, will be introduced.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling Carole Burnley at 530-626-4949.
“Everyone should attend the Rose Ball. It is such a lovely event. We always have a splendid time, and I encourage everyone to join us for an old-fashioned, elegant night out. The food, the band, the dancing and the outfits are always just wonderful,” Harper said with typical enthusiasm.
While Rose candidates and many members of the Rose Court adorn themselves in glamorous vintage outfits, Harper noted that no one should let fashion deter them from going to the Rose Ball. While it is a formal event and an opportunity to dress up in evening wear, elegant fashions of yesteryear are not required.
“The Rose Ball is just a lot of fun. You get to mingle with the Roses and local dignitaries, and you’ll be there to greet the Golden Rose, who is usually announced at the Rose Ball. And the new American Legion Hall on Greenstone Road is just spectacular,” Harper enthused. “The Legionaires are wonderful hosts. I hope everyone will come and have a fantastic time.”
Undaunted by the extra activities in her already busy volunteer schedule, Harper’s verve never wilted during her reign as El Dorado Rose.
Throughout the last year, Harper has been seen at myriad events, gracing El Dorado County with a ready smile, down-to-earth charm and beautiful, old-fashioned vintage dresses and hats.
“It has been a whirlwind, but I wouldn’t trade this year for the world,” said Harper exuberantly. “It has been absolutely wonderful.”
When Harper learned that women never ventured out alone back in the day, she always made sure to have escorts. Often, Harper was accompanied by her very own “thorn,” her husband, Harry Harper.
More often than not, Harper’s Rose Court, especially Judy Muetz and Sandy Kowalski, helped to brighten occasions with their own fetching personalities and beautiful ensembles.
“Harry has been marvelous,” Harper asserted, “but Judy … my goodness, she was always there for me, helping in any way she could, and attending functions with me religiously.”
Muetz has always been one of the most illustrious, industrious and lovely members of the Rose Court. Her historical knowledge and apparel expertise has blessed the Rose program, and her husband Mike Muetz has also been a boon, often providing transportation and escort services in his vintage automobiles.
“Sandra has been wonderful, too. She has enjoyed attending all the events with Judy and me. We were so fortunate that she had the time and was so willing to join us. She has truly blossomed this year and has been a lovely and engaging sidekick during my reign as Rose. I appreciate the wonderful guidance I have received from all of the Roses.”
Harper is a longtime resident of Shingle Springs, where she has been active in the Shingle Springs Community Center, the 4H Club, the Student Attendance Review Board (SARB) and the El Dorado High School Alumni Association among other organizations.
“One of my very favorite things to do as Rose was the ribbon cuttings. It is just so wonderful to see entrepreneurship and hope in this economy. I appreciate the new businesses coming in, and support and encourage them as much as I can,” Harper said.
Since Harper was sponsored by the Shingle Springs Community Center, she endeavored to provide them a report every month on her Rose activities.
Her reports can be seen at shinglespringscommunitycenter.org.
Harper’s notations are titled “Reign of the Rose,” but when the center writes about Harper, it is titled “Reign of our Rose.”
Among Harper’s first reports last July was an accounting of going to the Pollock Pines Fire Station on July 4 to participate in the legendary Pollock Pines Fourth of July Parade. True to Harper’s personality, she had a great time. Later that summer, Harper attended National Night Out at Pinewood School in Pollock Pines among other meetings and activities.
One sad note was attending the memorial for 1988 El Dorado Rose Shirley Ellen Smith in January.
“As Rose President Carol Burnley read a powerful and meaningful poem, members of the Court placed long-stemmed red roses in a vase. It was a lovely memorial for a lovely and special lady,” wrote Harper.
On a brighter note, Harper enjoyed attending the ribbon cutting in January for the Placerville Coffee Depot on Main Street. Harper noted that a railway depot was once across the street and moved in 1955 to then No. Washington St.
In February, Harper and other members of the Rose Court started learning how to make cloth roses. They will be selling the roses at a booth at the Shingle Springs Peddler’s Fair on Sunday, May 20.
The whole year was highlighted by chamber mixers, ribbon cuttings and community events, including a spaghetti feed at the Shingle Springs Community Center to celebrate improvements to the center.
“El Dorado Thorn Harry Harper and I were asked to host the event … the music by the Pickups was great, dancing was great … it was a wonderful evening,” Harper reported.
In April, Harper attended a ribbon cutting for the Ava Jade Salon in the new Diamond Center on Fowler Lane in Diamond Springs, “a beautiful salon in a beautiful building,” noted Harper. She was also impressed by the ambition shown by Kniesel’s Collision Center, where she was present for their ribbon cutting ceremony. Located on Chaparral Drive, Kniesel’s Collision Center transformed a gymnasium into a state-of-the-art repair center.
One of Harper’s favorite accomplishments as Rose was helping to spearhead the Rose Committee’s sponsorship of an Adopt-A-Spot at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. The Roses are committed to making the mini garden a place of beauty and an asset to the fairgrounds. She is being realistic when she says this is an ongoing project that may take several years before it becomes the lush oasis the ladies envision.
Among Harper’s other activities, she started a new gardening project with the 4H Club involving ornamental horticulture.
Now it is May and Harper is as busy as ever, supporting Rose candidates, anticipating the Rose Ball and the Shingle Springs Community Center Peddler’s Fair, as well as the upcoming El Dorado Rose Pageant.
In June, the new El Dorado Rose will be selected. Harper didn’t plan on being a hard Rose to follow, but it appears that she raised the stakes in how meaningful the El Dorado Rose and the Rose Court can be.
Still, roses are perennial plants that blossom prodigiously when they are trimmed, pruned, watered and nurtured. Thus Harper will continue to bloom as a member of the Rose Court, sharing her wisdom and vision with others.
She will continue to support her community with her volunteer work and stalwart spirit. She will nurture other Roses, her children and her grandchildren … in other words, Harper will continue to be a beacon of love, part of the Rose’s true natural beauty.
“it’s been a wild ride, and I have loved every minute it!” Harper said of her reign as El Dorado Rose.
E-mail the writer at [email protected]