Each year, young ladies from all over the Monterey Peninsula proudly represent our Italian heritage as candidates for the Festa Italia Fishermen's Festival Queen.
In August, The Coronation Ball Committee hosts a dinner dance celebration where a Queen is chosen in honor of the Festival.
The Queen and her Court are young ladies of Italian descent, many of whom are daughters, granddaughters and descendants of local fishermen. In addition to the Queen's Court, younger girls also participate in the Coronation ceremony as Princesses and Junior Princesses.
Contestants are selected for their dedication to perpetuating Italian culture, commitment to education and passion for community service. The winner will receive $1,000 in scholarship money.
The Queen is chosen from a pool of contestants and will serve for one full year.
The Queen's Court attends all Festa functions to help promote the events. They also are a symbol of grace and elegance atop a featured float in the Parade each year.
2018-2019 Festa Italia Monterey Queen - Gina Freese
Ciao – My name is Gina Marie Freese and I am your 2018-2019 Queen of the Santa Rosalia - Festa Italia. I am a Junior at Notre Dame High School, an avid softball player and honor student. When I graduate, it is my goal to attend the University of Arizona and study medicine.
The Santa Rosalia festival has been a big part of my life since I joined when I was only three years old. My parents are Carl & Julie Freese and my siblings are Savannah and Anthony.
Every year when the Festa Italia rolls around, I feel joy as I prepare for the big night. Family and friends coming together and heritage being celebrated – couldn’t make a girl like me – any happier – other than being chosen Queen. And then it happened, last year, I WON!! As it brought tears to my nana’s eyes and joy to my parents, I was the happiest girl in the room. Since I was a little girl, I remember looking up to the past queens and wishing and hoping one day my dream of becoming Queen of the Santa Rosalia Festa Italia, would come true – and it did!
As I have grown and matured, I have come to understand the sacrifice and courage it took for my great, great grandparents, Santo & Maria Scardina to make the journey to Monterey from San Nicola L’Arena, Sicily, in 1906. They came to fish the waters of the Monterey Bay. Antonio & Carlotta Turano made their journey to Monterey in the late 1800’s, from Genoa, Italy. They came as merchants and later built the Skating Rink on Del Monte Blvd. I am appreciative of the courage they had to come and make a better life and pass their traditions down to my great grandmothers, Angela Scardina DiFranco and Stella Turano Freese and to my nana, Helen Scardina Plummer. These values and traditions’ of hard work and family, have and still are, shaping me to be the strong woman my ancestors would be proud of.
Thanks to my Nanu and Nana, Gary & Helen Plummer, I will have the wonderful privilege of traveling with them and my immediate family, cousins and Fr. Joe, and travel back to my ancestors roots – Italy and Sicily for the Christmas holidays. I will finally meet my extended family and see where this all started – Sicilia