One short year ago, the Minneapolis Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes and Aquatennial Princesses were crowned in a mid-July ceremony at the Ted Mann Concert Hall on the University of Minnesota's West Bank. The former Miss Sleepy Eye 2011, Anna Surprenant was chosen to preside with the 2013 Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes, Carly Smith, and Leah Kruc, another Aquatennial Princess.
Throughout her reign, Anna participated in community service projects and festival events around the region, state and nation, as well as assisted in the leadership development of young women as ambassadors for the City of Minneapolis.
"This experience has taught me so much about who I am, what I'm capable of," Anna noted. "Because of this experience I'm a better person."
Anna said it was hard to choose favorite activities and events she has participated in this past year, but several stick out in her mind.
Anna and her Aquatennial family traveled by coach to Winnipeg, Canada to take part in the Festival Du Voyager, an annual 10-day winter festival that takes place in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The event is held each February in Winnipeg's French Quarter, Saint-Boniface, and is Western Canada's largest winter festival. It celebrates Canada's fur-trading past and unique French heritage and culture through entertainment, arts and crafts, music, exhibits and displays.
"One of my favorite parts of this festival was the torch light walk," Anna recalled.
She said all visiting dignitaries carried candles along the Red River to a very old church whose bells were ringing. Following the torchlight parade, a fire ceremony was held where branches of trees were burned to signify those who came before.
Another enjoyable part of this past year's experience Anna said, was handing out Aquatennial Honory Commodore Awards, given to individuals who have demonstrated the spirit of volunteerism. This year Mary Woitas was given the award at the Miss Sleepy Eye pageant.
"Honoring individuals for their volunteerism and great service to their community is so much fun!" Anna said.
Anna admits while there are times when she doesn't want this year to end, she has mentally prepared herself for it to be over.
"I look forward to what the future is going to bring and what this experience has strengthened me to do," Anna said. "And I'm excited to see who the next Aquatennial royalty will be."
Anna will attend the candidate week beginning July 14 and the new royalty will be selected and crowned on Friday, July 19. Courtney Schneider, the former 2012 Miss Sleepy Eye, will attend these events.
Anna explained that she is thrilled to be a part of the candidate week with Courtney as they have been friends since high school and attend Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall together.
Page 2 of 2 - Anna's advice to Courtney, and any of the young women who will be embarking on this experience, is to be themselves.
"Each girl will have a blast and leave a changed person," Anna said. "I'm so excited for Courtney and all of the candidates."
Anna is a junior at Southwest Minnesota State University, studying speech communications and public relations. She plans to graduate in May of 2015 and hopes to work in the Minneapolis area and continue to be a part of the Aquatennial Ambassadors program, as well as being a part of the local Miss Sleepy Eye committee.