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Seigel crowned Strawberry Queen

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette— Ani Seigel receives applause from the crowd after being named 2020 Copper Country Strawberry Queen Friday.

CHASSELL — Ani Seigel was crowned Copper Country Strawberry Queen during the 72nd annual coronation Friday night — and the first to be held without the accompanying festival.

Gia Guidotti was named first attendant. Sierrah Driscoll was named Miss Congeniality.

“I am super excited, especially that it’s during COVID,” said Seigel, a senior at Houghton High School. “It feels really relevant, and I think it’s really cool that we’re still doing this despite the circumstances. And I also think this is a testament that issues I care about really matter, that I could win this.”

Seigel articulated her progressive views during both answers in the question-and-answer session at Friday’s coronation. All candidates received the same first question, asking them to tie a lesson they learned from a book.

Seigel selected Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give,” which deals with the issue of police brutality against Black Americans.

“One lesson I learned from reading that book is that you can’t be silent when it comes to issues concerning human rights and justice,” she said. “If you don’t speak out, the change you need will never occur.”

For her second question, Seigel was asked to name her role models. On a personal level, she chose her parents, who she wants to emulate both in their world travels and accomplishments in academia. Another of her role models is U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., she said.

“Professionally, she’s really doing well,” Seigel said.

This year’s coronation went on despite the cancellation of the surrounding festival. Tickets were limited to 100 for the live event, while others watched a livestream on Facebook.

In a concession to COVID-19, contestants were preassigned their second question instead of pulling them from a basket. In another change, Seigel was crowned not by the outgoing queen, but by her mother. That change was so popular, it might stick, organizers said on the Facebook page Saturday.

Being crowned queen during the year of COVID-19 was “kind of surreal,” but rewarding, said Seigel. She had been recruited for the pageant by organizer Lara Neves, her voice teacher, after initial difficulty finding candidates.

“I think it’s cool that we’re bringing the community together, and we’re all in the same situation,” Seigel said. “So I’m really honored to be crowned the queen this year.”

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