The following was originally written by the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department blog by Kenny Via:
The Daffodil Festival has looked different this year, but the royalty is still making the rounds.
“Normally we go to all the libraries and read to the kids,” said Karah Ritter, 18, a Daffodil Princess from Fife High School. “Doing that online can be challenging, but I think we’re trying to do as much as we can.”
Instead of princesses waving to the crowd from a float during the parade, the royalty this year took up a week-and-a-half residence at the Fairgrounds in Puyallup to connect with the community.
“It’s been kind of sad that we don’t get as many in-person events as other years,” said Guadalupe Perez-Delores, 18, the Daffodil Princess representing Sumner High and this year’s Miss Congeniality. “But I’m very grateful for what we’ve been given. It makes you realize how much can be taken away.”
We’ve all had to adjust in many ways because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve lost out on holiday gatherings, community events and annual traditions. The Daffodil Festival is doing everything it can to keep its tradition alive, and these two princesses are working to spread the word that COVID-19 vaccine is our best chance to get back on track.
“I’m starting to hear more about people in my grade getting vaccinated, but it’s not nearly half of the students,” Guadalupe said. “I feel like if more people hear our stories about how we’ve gotten the vaccine and it’s not that bad, I think they’ll be more encouraged to get it, too.”
Karah and her friends are encouraging one another to get the vaccine mostly so they can get back to socializing safely.
“In my friend group, it’s a sense of pride when you get the vaccine,” she said. “We’ll text each other and be like, ‘I’m getting the vaccine today!’ I’m really excited for the day I’ll be fully vaccinated and able to hang out with my friends safely without a mask because I really do miss them.”
NOT JUST FOR YOURSELF
Guadalupe got her first dose of Moderna vaccine last month and is scheduled for her second dose in a few weeks. She said the decision was easy considering it is the best way to protect those she loves.
“I got vaccinated to keep my family safe,” she said. “It’s mostly about my family members that are older who can be more susceptible to getting COVID. I want to make sure I’m going to be a safe person around them.”
She’s heard some of her peers say they aren’t concerned about the effects of COVID and aren’t concerned about getting vaccinated. But she points out how important the vaccine is for others.
Karah had her family in mind as well when she got her first dose of Pfizer vaccine last month.
“I got vaccinated not only to protect myself but also my family,” she said. “It’s to protect others around me. I think it’s the next important step to getting things back to normal.”
ALL WE’VE MISSED
“Honestly, it’s been really hard,” Karah said. “As a senior, I was so excited for the high school traditions we have. It’s just been very different for sure.”
A year after the Class of 2020 missed out on all of spring sports, proms and traditional graduation ceremonies, this year’s group of seniors is navigating its way through phases and restrictions of their own.
In-person learning and sports have returned for a lot of students, although there’s been some limitations and adjustments.
“I’m just grateful we actually get a season,” said Guadalupe, whose sister plays basketball. “Because last year spring sports were completely canceled. So, having half a season is better than having none.”
Although, she admits some of the sense of community has been lost.
“Sumner is a very small town,” she said. “A lot of what brings the community together is football season. It was hard without any fans.”
Karah sees a similar scene in Fife.
“It’s definitely been weird,” she said. “Having limitations and only having a few tickets per person is tough not being able to go and support our teams and the community. It’s been hard.”
Both princesses hope getting more people vaccinated will help open things up for next year.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
Guadalupe and Karah are happy to be on their way to getting fully vaccinated, but neither are letting their guard down yet.
Guadalupe says she’ll be happy when more people get the vaccine. She was hopeful recent announcements from local universities about requiring students to be fully vaccinated to be on campus this fall could help.
“I know a lot of my senior friends are considering getting the vaccine because that’s a requirement that their school may have,” she said. “If someone isn’t necessarily for or against the vaccine, I feel like there’s no better time than now.”
Karah hopes that for every student who steps up now—like she and Guadalupe did—more will follow very soon.
“Even just one person makes a difference,” she said. “Once one person gets the vaccine, that creates a domino effect for multiple people getting it.”
She’s wants that momentum to carry us all to more of what everyone enjoys doing.
“Once everybody gets a vaccination, I think it will be really cool to be able to finally hug somebody,” she said. “I really miss hugging and shaking hands. It’s a small step to something even greater in the future.”
It’s important to continue to take all the steps necessary to prevent the spread of COVID:
- Wear a mask.
- Stay 6 feet from others.
- Stay home if you’re sick.
- Keep gatherings small.
- Wash your hands often.
- Get tested if you have symptoms.
Learn more and find your COVID-19 vaccine appointment at tpchd.org/vaxtothefuture.