Queen Designate Laurenzano prepares for Apple Blossom Festival

Queen Shenandoah XC designate Kiara Anastasia Laurenzano speaks to reporters during a news conference Wednesday evening after her arrival in Winchester for the 90th annual Apple Blossom Festival this weekend. Rich Cooley/Daily

After hearing stories about the Apple Blossom Festival from her great-aunt, Kiara Anastasia Laurenzano is preparing to experience the festival for herself.

Laurenzano, Queen Shenandoah designate for the 90th Apple Blossom Festival, said she is close to her great-aunt, Edda Maria Sevilla Somoza, who was Queen Shenandoah for the 46th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival in 1973.

“She’s actually my godmother,” Laurenzano said. “She’s almost my second mother.”

That close relationship has meant that Laurenzano has seen pictures of the Apple Blossom Festival before. But this is the first time she’s attended the festival.

For the Mount St. Mary’s University freshman, that means she’ll be learning the ropes from her great-aunt.

Laurenzano has her dress ready. She said it will be “princess-y”: white with flowers and sparkles.

Laurenzano said that Somoza will be crowning her in the crowning ceremony.

“That will be really special,” Laurenzano said.

As a freshman at Mount St. Mary’s University, Laurenzano said that her finals are coming up in just over a week. Because of that, she brought her backpack with her in the hopes of studying. But she knowingly laughed when asked if she’d have any time to study during the busy weekend.

Laurenzano is majoring in health sciences and minoring in Spanish. She said she plans on becoming a pediatric nurse practitioner.

“Throughout my life, I’ve always been interested in health,” she said.

Laurenzano is also interested in environmental issues, owing in part to the fact that she grew up on a farm, close to nature. In her free time, she likes to paint nature and abstract art pieces.

In addition to her great-aunt, Laurenzano’s great-grandmother was also Queen Shenandoah. Lillian Somoza de Sevilla Sacasa was the 13th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival Queen in 1940.

Not only does Laurenzano descend from several Queen Shenandoah designates; she is also the descendant of several Nicaraguan rulers. Lillian Somoza de Sevilla Sacasa was the daughter of Anastasio Somoza Garcia and the sister of Anastasio Somoza Debayle.

Both Garcia and Debayle ruled Nicaragua–Garcia, from 1936 to his death in 1956; Debayle, from 1967 to 1979.

Laurenzano will be crowned Queen Shenandoah at 1:30 p.m. Friday at the Patsy Cline Theater in John Handley High School.

Contact staff writer Max Lee at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or mlee@nvdaily.com