Black 8th-graders part of multicultural 2007 Winter Carnival court


Their reign is halfway over, but the lesson they have learned about royalty will last far beyond the fall of next winter’s snowflakes.

Last January, Tyler Hamblin and Javon Jackson — both eighth graders from St. Paul’s Ramsey Middle School — were crowned into the royal family of the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

The carnival, known as the “coolest celebration on Earth,” is also the oldest winter celebration in the United States, full of traditions that date back to the late 1800s.

Not as old as the carnival itself, however, is the carnival’s Junior Royalty, who serve as representatives of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation. They make appearances at parades, community festivals and several parks and recreation events. Additionally, the royalty takes on roles as teen ambassadors for health and wellness programs for St. Paul Parks and Recreation.

Tyler Hamblin is the Junior Royalty’s Prime Minister, and Javon Jackson is the Court’s Lady in Waiting. They are the only two African Americans represented in the Junior Royalty Court.

“I am very proud of that,” said Tyler. “Our whole court is multi-cultural. I’m pretty proud that we’re the only African Americans, and also proud that we have a multi-cultural court. It shows that the candidates were selected based on talent.”

“In the past, I always thought you had to have money to be involved in something like this,” said Javon. “It’s great to know that being African American you can actually win the big thing.”

After going through the application process to be considered to be a member of the Junior Royalty, Javon and Tyler, along with the other candidates, were interviewed by three judges — an experience that could give any adult the jitters, much less a soon-to-be high school freshman.

“Before I went in the room to talk with the judges, I was really nervous,” said Tyler. “But once I started talking with them, it got better, and I came out of the room much more confident than when I went in.”

Since becoming crowned in January, Javon and Tyler have learned a lot about the community they live in. The experience has enabled them to participate in community events that they otherwise would have never given a second thought to — most of these events are parades, even the bitter cold Winter Carnival’s Grand Day Parade.

“I wore so many layers that day,” laughed Javon. “My feet were freezing.”

But aside from braving the cold, Javon and Tyler have learned that being Black and being royal will help them be successful in the challenging high school years that are right in front of them.

“Going into high school, I know I can now present myself better,” said Javon. “It feels good to know that you have made a difference in your community.”

“This experience has taught me to challenge myself to become more involved in the community, said Tyler. “After all, you might like it, I never realized that I’d enjoy being a part of the Junior Royalty so much.”
Javon and Tyler’s reign with Junior Royalty will end in January, at the 2008 Winter Carnival.

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