Drama Devotee Is Chosen as Rose Queen


Classmates jokingly call 17-year-old Sophia Bush the “drama queen” because she loves the stage so much.

But on Tuesday, her stage became much bigger than any school auditorium: The Westridge School senior from Pasadena was named the 2000 Rose Queen.

Bush’s hazel eyes popped wide open Tuesday when the Pasadena Tournament of Roses president called her name from among seven finalists for the honor.


“I wasn’t expecting it. It’s a real shock,” she said, hugging the six princesses she beat out to become the tournament’s 82nd Rose Queen.

“I don’t know how they made the decision because we’re such an equal team,” she said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but it’s very exciting.”

Her mother, Maureen Bush, trembled with joy and friends from Westridge shrieked with delight during the announcement made at the Tournament House mansion in Pasadena, just blocks from the private girls school campus.

Also in attendance was Holly Hasted Balthis, the oldest living Rose Queen, who presided over the 1930 parade.

“It’s a lifetime experience,” the 91-year-old Laguna Beach resident said as she watched photographers and reporters crowd around her newest, beaming successor.

“Once a Rose Queen, always a Rose Queen. You carry the message of Pasadena to the rest of the world.”

Yet some things do change. When she was named queen during the Great Depression, Balthis said, the tournament gave her $10 to buy eggshell satin so she could make her own dress.

Bush, however, will receive a new wardrobe from Macy’s and a supply of Estee Lauder makeup.

Flashing her dazzling white teeth, Bush credited her theater experience and outgoing nature with helping her survive the monthlong selection ordeal, which winnowed more than 900 hopefuls for the crown.

Now that she has won, Bush said she will be especially busy, combining her numerous Rose Queen appearances, school and acting.

“My life is very hectic,” she said. “I love the drama department and everyone in it. They have scheduled rehearsals around me.”

Bush is rehearsing her role in “Denial,” a six-person play, and within the last year has performed in three school productions.

In the fall, she plans to attend Tulane University, where she intends to earn a double major in theater and psychology.

Bush is the second Rose Queen from Westridge in recent years. Her friend, Purdy Tran, was queen two years ago.

As the reigning Rose Bowl sovereign, Bush will participate in more than 100 community and media functions.

She will be accompanied by her Royal Court Princesses Lauren Beattie of La Canada Flintridge; Caitlin Bogert of Pasadena; Grace Chen of San Marino; Kellie Handy of South Pasadena; Carol Huang of San Marino and Mariasol Pena of Arcadia.

Maureen Bush, Sophia’s mother, said she is bracing herself for a whirlwind couple of months.

But her daughter’s life at home isn’t going to change altogether just because she’s Rose Parade royalty.

“Is she going to boss me around now?” Maureen Bush asks rhetorically and then promptly answers: “Fat chance.”