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 May 2.
One of her first acts as queen was knighting her grandfather, John Astin, as knight minister of the festival.
Sean Astin said Ali 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-Fauqier County.
Children served as 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.
Christine and Sean Astin “are the sweetest little couple,” Ali said. “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.”