Throwback Thursday by Matson Insurance: Laurel Queens

Matson Insurance is partnering with Jefferson County History Center to offer exploreJeffersonpa.com readers a look in Jefferson County’s past. Today “Laurel Queens” is being showcased.

[Pictured above: Susan Haugh Moore was the Laurel Queen in 1961. (JCHS Collection)]

The following article was written by Carole A. Briggs, Curator, Jefferson County History Center:

THEIR HIGHNESSES, THE LAUREL QUEENS

In 2007 the fiftieth young woman to wear the queen’s tiara was crowned during the Western Pennsylvania Laurel Festival. Begun in 1936 to promote the area’s great natural beauty and greater appreciation of this wonderful asset, the festival ceased during World War II, then resumed again in 1959.

To celebrate the occasion, the History Center contacted more than half of the former queens and asked them about their lives today and their memories of their reigns. We discovered their lives typify the lives of women during the last five decades. They are mothers and grandmothers, single, newly married, and divorced. Some live nearby, others traveled far. Some are students, some work, some don’t; but even if it rained on their parade, all have good memories of their experience.

For example, Caron Walter Heigel (2001), Sigel, graduated from Brookville Area High School, majored in psychology at Slippery Rock University, and earned a doctorate. She lacked dance experience.

“I remember having to practice the dance at home in order to make sure I was getting everything right―I had no dance experience. I had been playing the piano since I was ten years old and chose to play a piece. That required lots of practice and more focused lessons than I had previously had. We also had an evening gown segment where we had to walk back and forth on the stage as our bios were read. I remember being concerned about that part because I could see myself falling flat on my face! And, you had to remember to smile at all times…I don’t know how many times the pageant organizers told us that.”

Like others, too, it did rain on Caron’s parade! “The day of the parade was the only rainy day that week—all the other days were gorgeous. We were supposed to be in convertibles, but due to the rain the tops were up, which was disappointing. Additionally, we were supposed to sing the National Anthem for the old timer’s baseball game, but it was rained out.”

Nevertheless, despite the rain, like other former WPLF queens, Caron’s memories are good. “This was a way for me to feel active in my community and hopefully I was able to give back to my community.”

[email protected] County Historical Society, Inc.

Throwback Thursday is brought to you by Matson Insurance in Brookville.

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Submitted by the Jefferson County History Center.


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