Mums, poinsettias…roses! Calling all 'Rose' hopefuls

In February the 2015 Ohio Rose “hopefuls” took time out for a game of chess at Crocker Park, or so it seems.  Perhaps the photo op caught them letting off some steam after a rigorous round of preliminary judging! Photo courtesy Ohio Rose Center.

Mums mark the fall season, poinsettias point to the Christmas holidays, and roses remind us of the upcoming selection of the 2016 Ohio Rose on Saturday, Feb. 13. The “Valentine’s Eve” event marks the sixth consecutive celebration of young women of Irish heritage hosted by the Ohio Rose Centre in affiliation with The Rose of Tralee International Festival, a longstanding Irish tradition held every August in Tralee, County Kerry. 

The annual festival showcases the finest and innermost qualities of young women of Ireland and Irish diaspora on a world stage. It culminates with the naming of that year’s “Rose of Tralee” who will serve as the festival’s ambassador via public appearances, media events, and participating in selected charitable initiatives during her tenure. Roses of Tralee radiate charm, wit, grace, intelligence and warmth.

Yet, there can be no Rose selection without Rose entrants.

Just ask Bay Village’s Kaytee Szente, the 2015 Ohio Rose. Late last year, Kaytee took her first steps forward toward the Rose experience. She verified her eligibility, completed the festival’s international application (available at, verified her availability to participate in specific activities leading up to and including the Ohio Rose selection, and secured a sponsor. 

As a Rose entrant, Kaytee agreed that if selected as Ohio Rose, she could travel to Ireland (expenses paid) on dates specified for the next selection round. There, she would meet up with young ladies of Irish heritage from throughout Ireland, as well as Europe, North America and as far away as the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand for the next selection round.

Once home, each Ohio Rose has several occasions to don her sash and meet her public. Earlier this month, Kaytee and 2012 Ohio Rose Ashley Speaker appeared at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum’s November fundraiser. Other Rose “sightings” will occur at parades, regional Irish festivals and various cultural events. Roses have been regular guests on Quinn Irish Radio aired locally on Sunday mornings. 

If you happen to meet Kaytee, or anyone who’s been a part of the “Rose” experience whether locally or abroad, you’re likely to hear about the camaraderie that the participants share, the thrill of celebrity treatment, meeting new people, and the sheer joy of celebrating Irish heritage. Roses routinely report that they’ve made lifelong friends as a result of their Rose experience and hold many fond memories close to their hearts.

It’s said that in Ireland grandparents often encourage their granddaughters to “give it a try.” In Ohio, inquiries may be directed to Detailed information is available at Although the posted application deadline is Dec. 31, it’s best not to hesitate. Each year’s number of applicants is limited, and the deadline is automatic when the maximum is attained.

The Ohio Rose Centre is managed by Westlake World Partners, a local non-profit group formed to help promote educational, cultural and civic exchange in for the City of Westlake’s Sister Cities program. The Ohio rose Selection is its annual fundraiser. 

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Volume 7, Issue 22, Posted 9:07 AM, 11.17.2015