Bay resident named 2015 Ohio Rose

Under the watchful eyes of 2014 Mayo Rose Hannah Ferguson, far left, 2014 Ohio Rose Grainne Mangan checks placement of the sash on the just-named 2015 Ohio Rose Katrina Szente. Photo by Egon Luengo

While the phrase “three is a charm” implies good fortune, the fifth in the series of Westlake World Partners’ Ohio Rose selections served up a special Valentine’s Day treat for 20-year-old Bay Village resident Katrina “Kaytee” Szente. An accomplished Irish dancer, the former Bay Window editor is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies.

Like her fellow 2015 Ohio Rose candidates, Szente recognized that relishing the opportunity to make new acquaintances, form lifelong friendships, network with sponsors, and celebrate Irish heritage in affiliation with The Rose of Tralee International Festival is key to making what’s referred to as the “Rose Experience” memorable.

This year’s selection celebration delivered a special brand of magic beyond music, song, Irish dance, Marine escorts and eager Rose hopefuls. Might Saint Valentine’s Day's special aura have had anything to do with that? It must have!

Neither the evening’s extreme cold nor hazardous driving conditions deterred a large turnout, especially when taking into consideration the significant distances that some attendees had to travel.

This year’s honored guest, 2014 Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, provided insight regarding her “Rose Experience” as she inspired those seeking to become this year’s Ohio Rose. Walsh, the 2014 Philadelphia Rose, confided that she was not chosen as a local Rose on her first attempt, but her fondness for the experience led her to try again, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A further demonstration of how Roses support each other is evidenced by the number of visiting Roses attending this year’s Ohio selection: the 2013 and 2014 Kentucky Roses, along with the 2014 Mayo, Ottawa and Toronto Roses. Eager to welcome them were recent Ohio Roses Grainne Mangan (2014), Kelsey Higgins (2013), Ashley Speaker (2012) and Bridget Linton (2011). Maureen (Gannon) Hennessey, 1981 Ohio Rose, and Linda (McCravy) Shubeck, 1971 Rose of Tralee, originally from Miami, have been associated with the Ohio Rose Centre since Westlake World Partners hosted its first selection event in 2011.

Legendary area newsman, sportscaster and author Dan Coughlin, and emerging celebrity 2011 Ohio Rose Bridget Linton, presided over the festivities including on-stage Rose interviews.

This year's Rose candidates – a slate that included Sheffield Village’s Annemarie Cunningham, North Olmsted’s Maura English, Lakewood’s Claire Fox, Rocky River’s Maureen Rose Ginley, University Heights’ Erin Hogan, Marysville’s Grainne Hutchinson, Akron’s Siobhan McCarthy, Willoughby Hills’ Ann Profeta, and Avon Lake’s Hailey Taylor – participated in preliminary events on Feb. 6 and 13. In addition to early judging rounds, they made a number of appearances throughout the Westshore and downtown Cleveland. Sporting sashes bearing sponsors’ names while chauffeured in a luxury bus, each candidate stepped out of her normal routine to be afforded celebrity treatment, a taste of what will occur when the 2015 Ohio Rose travels to Ireland in May to participate in the Festival’s Regional Finals in Portlaoise. 

In Portlaoise, the field of young ladies seeking the title of 2015 Rose of Tralee will be narrowed to finalists advancing to The Rose of Tralee International Festival held this August in Westlake’s Sister City of Tralee, Ireland.

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Volume 7, Issue 4, Posted 9:05 AM, 02.17.2015