Queen’s Coronation is Astin family affair
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WINCHESTER — Actor Sean Astin has crowned his daughter Alexandra as queen of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival — a role he said she was made for.
The 17-year-old, who goes by Ali, was crowned as the 87th festival queen in the Patsy Cline Theatre at Handley High School on Friday.
One of her first acts as queen was knighting her grandfather John Astin as knight minister of the festival.
In an interview earlier on Friday, Sean Astin recalled telling Ali that she was being asked to be the festival queen.
In 2004, when he was the Bloom’s co-grand marshal with Loni Anderson, Ali said she wanted to come back as the queen.
Sean Astin said she was excited when he relayed the request for her to be the queen.
“When I told her, I barely got the sentence out, I said, ‘Apple Blo ...’ she just leapt up and got so excited,” Astin said. “Watching her enjoy something she really wanted to do is going to be the best.
“Ali is designed for the kinds of activity that a queen-in-waiting goes through. She loves to meet people. She loves to give energy to people. She remembers people’s names. She loves getting dressed up and doing her hair and wearing beautiful dresses.”
For her Coronation, Ali wore a strapless white satin wedding dress with a cinched-in bodice and sequined blossoms.
Pomp and pageantry preceded the father and daughter’s arrival at the ceremony.
In addition to a color guard made up of Randolph-Macon Academy cadets, the celebrants included a procession of dozens of princesses escorted by members of the Shenandoah University baseball team, as well as various officials, including Winchester Mayor Elizabeth Minor and 27th District state Sen. Jill Vogel, R-Upperville.
Children served as little maids and pages.
Festival President Lou Ann Thompson declared the beginning of the festival during the ceremony.
“Let’s enjoy together the beauty, the pageantry and merrymaking ... as we welcome another springtime to the beautiful Shenandoah Valley,” she said.
Ali’s parents Sean and Christine Astin placed the silver-flowered crown upon her head.
“I crown you 87th queen of the Apple Blossom,” Christine Astin said.
Her husband called out, “Long live the queen!”
As a large key was symbolically presented to Ali, Minor said, “Welcome to our fair city, and may it become your own.”
When John Astin was called to the stage to receive his knighthood, the theme song to his popular 1960s television show “The Addams Family” was played, to the delight of the audience.
“Oh, brave Granddad, I hereby bestow upon you the Order of the Blossoms,” Ali said.
John Astin spoke a few words before leaving the stage.
“I love funny,” he said. “Thank you very much. And I dearly love my family, and today particularly Alexandra Louise Astin and her parents.”
The Handley Singers presented a Royal Command Performance, offering a choreographed medley of songs. Ali led the standing ovation when the chorus was finished.
Later in the afternoon, Ali discussed the Coronation experience.
“It was so much fun. I think no matter how old I get, I will always be a child. I had so much fun with my little pages.”
She ran around with them, pretending to be Superman, using her train as a cape.
A member of two bands and two choirs, Ali was impressed with the Handley Singers. One of her choirs performed at Carnegie Hall in New York.
“I’ve sung with my choir a couple of songs that [the Handley Singers] did,” she said. “They hit it so perfectly. It was so great to watch them with their showmanship.”
Receiving a key to the city was also a pleasure. “I thought I had to save lives before I did that.”
Ali has great love for her family, and shared a hug with her grandfather several hours after her Coronation.
“[My mother] is beautiful inside and out,” she said. “My normal is very weird. I lived in 16 countries. I loved it. My constant thing in my life was my mom. My dad’s family is so wonderfully wacky.”
Ali described her grandfather’s photographic memory. He is a theater professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
“That man is the smartest man you will ever meet,” she said.
And Christine and Sean Astin “are the sweetest little couple,” Ali added. “He makes my mom look and act like a teenager more than anyone I’ve ever seen.“I hope I can find someone like that.
“I love it when people come up to me and say, ‘I love your dad.’ I say, ‘I love him, too. We have so much in common.’
“There’s nothing he won’t do for our family.”
— Contact Sally Voth email@example.com