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  P R E S S  R E L E A S E

Sununu assistant chosen Cherry Blossom Princess
Special to the Union Leader

WASHINGTON - When New Hampshire State Society President Michael McBride called Crystal Dollins to tell her that she was chosen as this year's New Hampshire Cherry Blossom Princess, it was "a very happy moment," Dollins said.

"Being from New Hampshire, and going to school in New Hampshire and growing up there, I thought I would be a great person to represent New Hampshire," she said of the reasons why she applied to be the Granite State princess.

The princess selection committee at the state society agreed with her. "We felt that Crystal was above and beyond what we were looking for, and she was a good fit for the role," said Stephanie DuBois, secretary of the New Hampshire State Society.

Dollins grew up in Bedford and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2005. She now works as a staff assistant in the Capitol Hill office of Sen. John Sununu.

The princesses, of which there are 47 this year, participate in all of the activities of the weeklong Cherry Blossom Festival. The biggest is today's Congressional Ball, where a queen will be chosen by the spin of a wheel. The Cherry Blossom Queen gets to spend 10 days in Japan representing the United States, just like the Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen will be doing here during the festivities.

The tradition of the Cherry Blossom princesses first came about in 1939. It's sponsored by the National Conference of State Societies, and each state society chooses its princess.

The Cherry Blossom Festival itself began in 1912, when Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gave Washington a gift of 3,000 cherry trees to celebrate the friendship between the two cities.

Dollins also says that she's hoping to make friends in the competition. "I've noticed that a bunch of the other girls are living here in D.C., are kind of in the same situation as I am, working here either in Congress or representing their state somehow," she said. "I'm looking forward to meeting a lot of people who are similar to my situation."

Each princess gives a present to each of the other princesses. Dollins collaborated with the New Hampshire State Society to decide what their state gift would be. "We were thinking of ideas of what to givewe just shopped around New Hampshire and found cute little bottles of maple syrup that we thought would be the best way to represent New Hampshire," Dollins said.

Alyssa Marcus is an intern with the Boston University Washington News Service



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