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65th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen contestants announced


    The contestants for the 65th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen pageant are, back row from left: Lauren Umamoto, Marcie Kamei, Kelli-Ann Wong, Lori Kim, Nicole Nakamoto, Kaelyn Okuhata; middle row, from left: Carly Ishihara, Kristie Maeshiro-Takiguchi, Kelly Ann Takiguchi, Michelle Ota; and front row, from left: Roxanne Takaesu, Ruth Taketa, Jennifer Ezaki, Jolyne Kurihara and Heather Omori.

The Honolulu Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce introduced its contestants for the 65th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen pageant during a public appearance at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s New Year’s Ohana Festival on Jan. 8.

Participants were selected based on “commitment to the perpetuation of Japanese culture” along with a demonstrated track record of community service and a commitment to continuing education, according to organizers. Once selected, pageant contestants must take part in a “rigorous series of cultural and personal development classes.”

The 65th Cherry Blossom Queen will be chosen on March 18 at the Sheraton Waikiki as part of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival Ball.

This year’s contestants include:

>> Jennifer Ezaki

>> Carly Ishihara

>> Marcie Kamei

>> Lori Kim

>> Jolyne Kurihara

>> Nicole Nakamoto

>> Kaelyn Okuhata

>> Heather Omori

>> Michelle Ota

>> Roxanne Takaesu

>> Ruth Taketa

>> Kelly Ann Takiguchi

>> Kirstie Maeshiro-Takiguchi

>> Lauren Umamoto

>> Kelli-Ann Wong

Applications for the 66th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen pageant are also available; contestants must be at least 50 percent Japanese by ancestry, be between the ages of 19 and 28 and be a United States citizen and Hawaii resident. Visit for more information.

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