The Cherry Blossom Princess Program
The Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program is a weeklong opportunity for young women from across the U.S. and around the world to come together and network. Since 1948, state and territorial societies, as well as the international embassy community, have selected accomplished young women between the ages of 19 and 24 for their academic achievement, exceptional poise and appearance, excellent interpersonal communication skills, leadership, interest in social, civic, community and world affairs with a strong desire to serve others through community service, maturity and responsibility, and to:
• Represent the National Conference of State Societies and Cherry Blossom Princess Program by actively supporting these organizations’ mission, values, and goals.
• Serve by attending and actively participating in NCSS and Princess Program community outreach initiatives as well as by serving at required events and social functions.
• Learn by taking advantage of opportunities for broadening personal development, volunteerism, and community involvement.
• Have fun and make new friends through festival volunteerism – one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of participation in the National Cherry Blossom Princess program.
These young women representatives are called “Cherry Blossom Princesses.” Today more than 3,000 young women have participated in the NCSS Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program since 1948, including daughters of presidents, congressmen and senators. The princess program continues to inspire women of accomplishment. The Pi Alpha Kappa Cherry Blossom Princess Sorority includes Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Shannon Vinson, a Captain in the USAF.
The mission of the program is to have the Cherry Blossom Princesses participate in educational, leadership, and cultural activities as they serve their nation and respective state, territory or embassy in a “Washington Classroom,” by introducing the princesses to many government, cultural, military, business leaders, and female role models, who work in the nation’s capitol. In the past decade, the princesses have met with First Lady Laura Bush; former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson; Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton; Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Naval Commander Yvette Brownwhaller; Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught; Red Cross President and CEO Dr. Bernadine Healey, among others.
The United States Cherry Blossom Queen is chosen by a random spin of a wheel of fortune by the Japan Ambassador in Washington, D.C at the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball. The following morning, the newly crowned U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen and her Japan counterpart, along with the State, Territory, and International Princesses are invited to participate in the National Cherry Blossom Parade® and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.
Every year since 1948, the United States Cherry Blossom Queen has been selected at the Official Cherry Blossom Grand Ball and Cooronation of the United States Cherry Blossom Queen from among the Cherry Blossom Princesses representing the states and territories. Every year since 1973, the NCSS-sponsored U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen has been officially invited, by the Japan Cherry Blossom Association (JCBA) to visit Japan in May. This year celebrates the 65th Anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Princess Education and Cultural Exchange Program.
In 2012, Taylor Barfield of Maryland was selected as the 2012 U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen. Ms. Barfield visited with Japanese Prime Minister, the Speaker of the House, Members of the Diet, cabinet officials, and several governors when she visited Japan in May. Taylor is presenting pursuing a Degree in Sociology at Bowie State University in Maryland. While at Bowie State, she was Miss Freshman 2011-2012 and a part of the Student Government Association. Ms. Barfield took great pride in representing the United States for the last year, always remembering the people, community, and state that made her who she is.
Junior Cherry Blossom Princess Program
A new program beginning in 2012 is our Junior Cherry Blossom Princess Program. This has been in the pilot stages for 2 years and it was officially launched in 2012. The Junior Princess Program allows sisters of princesses, our Princess Alumnae families and members of state and territorial societies to participate in the ticketed activities as well. As a special addition, they were individually introduced for the first time at the Princess Tea where they received their sash from the U.S. and Japan Cherry Blossom Queens. They also got to participate in the USO Care Package Stuffing event at Ft. Belvoir on Friday, April 13, 2012, and were collectively recognized at each of the NCSS events.
State and Territorial Societies can have more than one Junior Cherry Blossom Princess, it is not limited. The beginning age is 5 so she can walk on stage independently to receive her sash. The ending age is 12 years old (per the pricing structure for our events). This year, Junior Princessses will receive their sashes at Princess Orientation on Sunday, April 7, 2013, at the Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel. Please arrive at 10:00am in order to be seated for the presentation ceremony. Stay tuned for other special events involving the Junior Princesss during the Festival week and make sure to take advantage of the special pricing at the NCSS events for children, including our Junior Princesses. Click here for the Junior Cherry Blossom Princess Application (the applications are closed for 2013).
Cherry Blossom Princess Sorority (Pi Alpha Kappa)
On May 22, 1963, a new chapter in the Cherry Blossom Princess Program began with the founding of the Pi Alpha Kappa Sorority or Prigkippissa Anthous Kerasias, “Daughters of the Cherry Blossom.” Pi Alpha Kappa Sorority is a permanent organization comprised of Cherry Blossom Princesses, past, present, and future, regardless of race, religion, or creed. For many years the sorority has been active and an important part of the lives of Cherry Blossom Princesses and the National Cherry Blossom Festival®. Pi Alpha Kappa Sorority provides Cherry Blossom Princess Alumnae with an avenue to share memories, make new friendships, and give back to the community. Membership in ΠAK is automatic when you are chosen by your state, territory, or embassy as a Cherry Blossom Princess.
To celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Sorority, a sorority pin was commissioned in 2012 and given to all princesses, past and present at the closing ceremony. This traditional will live on each year at the closing ceremony and be given to each class as they close out the week as princesses and become Sorority Princesses.
To receive more information about the sororioty, reconnect with Pi Alpha Kappa Sorority, or to receive your Official Sorority Pin (cost is $5 and includes shipping - only for past Cherry Blossom Princesses), please Email us for more information or visit the Princess Sorority website at: http://www.wix.com/be75th/cherryblossomprincess