By Katie Demeria
WINCHESTER -- Queen Shenandoah LXXXVII Alexandra Louise "Ali" Astin's coronation was a family affair.
The queen was all smiles as her father, actor Sean Astin, escorted her toward the stage, and again when both her father and mother, Christine Astin, kissed her after she was crowned.
Ali had one more kiss on stage, as well, from her grandfather, actor John Astin.
In an interview after the ceremony, the new Queen Shenandoah said being crowned was an amazing experience.
"I felt like I was in the Princess Diaries," she said.
But her father was quickly able to bring her back to reality -- he discreetly whispered "pumpernickel" into her ear during the ceremony.
"He's a very odd man," she said. "He made me realize, OK, I'm not really a queen, I'm sitting here with dad."
This is the second time Ali has attended the Apple Blossom Festival. She accompanied her father in 2004 when he was grand marshal. He brought his whole family with him then, too, and this time his two youngest daughters, Elizabeth, 11, and Isabella, 8, were also in attendance.
Ali was crowned Friday in the Patsy Cline Theatre of the John Handley High School. Apple Blossom Festival President Lou Ann Thompson welcomed the court and the onlookers in the auditorium to the ceremony.
"I hereby declare all of you to be subjects of this apple blossom realm. I invite you to join in the ceremony of coronation of our new sovereign," she announced.
Ali held onto her father's arm as they began the coronation, then knelt as he crowned her.
"Long live the queen," Sean Astin called to the crowd after his daughter was crowned.
Ali said one of her favorite parts of the whole process was getting to spend time with the pages who carried the train of her long, silvery gown as she approached the stage.
"We were playing this game with the train where I decided I was superman and they made it fly, and I almost got them in trouble," she said. "But it was so worth it, they were so much fun."
Ali is a junior in high school. She is looking toward college, and said Yale is her first choice. Apart from her education, though, she said she has a great love for acting.
"I love acting more than I love breathing," she said.
During the ceremony, the queen was presented with a sword topped with an apple, which she used to knight John Astin, who starred in the 1960s television show "The Addams Family" as Gomez Addams.
He walked up on stage to both "The Addams Family" theme and the crowd's laughter.
"They asked me to say a few words," he said. "And that was it."
"I love funny," he added after a moment. "I dearly love my family, and today particularly Alexandra, and her parents."
After his granddaughter tapped his shoulders with the apple-topped sword, he reached forward and kissed her hand. She mouthed "I love you" as he walked away.
Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org