De Soto Society Blog

A Year In Review: Queen Langston & Princess Claire

A year representing the Hernando De Soto Historical Society as the De Soto Queen and the De Soto Princess has come and gone for two extraordinary young ladies, Langston Sellars and Claire Strickland. The two of them, along with Hernando de Soto Mark Hildebrandt and Captain of the Crewe Steve Covey, have represented the Hernando De Soto Historical Society exceptionally. We affectionately refer to these four as the De Soto Royal Family. The Royal Family represents our society, city, and county in many local parades, festivals in North Florida, Minnesota, Canada, Spain, and more!

Let’s check in with Queen Langston and Princess Claire and see how their year went and what they took from this once in a lifetime experience. We call it a once in a lifetime experience because it truly is, once you are coronated as Queen or Princess, you cannot be the Queen or Princess again, and every Queen and Princess have asked us for us to lift that rule so that they can reign longer. Here are their highlights on how their year panned out and their takeaways from an adventure of a year.

As we approach the end of our reign, we wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our year. Both of us were surprised when we were nominated to be on Queen’s Court. Neither one of us were sure if we were ready for this adventure because it was so far out of our comfort zone.

During our year, we had the honor of representing De Soto at numerous festivals and parades. Our favorite parade, while we were on Queen’s Court, was hands down the Knight parade in Ybor. The Knight Parade was the first parade that we attended, and we were encouraged to mingle and meet new people. We had the opportunity to sit together on the bus ride up, and both of us barely said two words and felt very awkward. Once crowned Queen and Princess, our favorite parade was the Grand Parade. We enjoyed representing our new roles as we were parading down the streets of our home town.

Festival week was a blur. It went by so slow but so fast. It was exciting meeting everyone and getting our first taste of what festival life was all about. We will remember the challenging times of the week because we were supported by our families and friends who were genuinely concerned about us. The night of the Queen Selection Banquet was one of those nights. We were both so uptight with nerves that our parents prayed over us and helped to put us at ease before our interviews. The back room where we stayed was so intense. Claire could only pace the room and count bricks on the walls. Lisa Sokos was so concerned that Claire even made her cry.

The Coronation Ball was spectacular! From the beginning of the evening, we were busy socializing and meeting everyone that walked in the Bradenton Area Convention Center. It was so fun seeing our family and friends. The pomp and circumstance of the evening and all of the formal introductions of our soon to be new best friends was exciting to see. When we were introduced while walking the runway, it was a feeling like no other. The spotlight was on us for just a moment, and we felt like we were in a fairy tale. Once we were crowned Queen and Princess, we felt like nothing could go wrong. Everything felt perfect in the world.

Before De Soto, Claire and I really did not know each other. During the time leading up to Festival Week and during the week itself, we started to spend more time together. We were excited to share this experience and had no idea how special our bond would become.

Our first real adventure with the Royal Family was after the Coronation Ball when we took a trip to Taco Bell. Mark and Steve had to walk through the drive-thru line after the Ball because the Royal Mobile would not fit. Before the Grand Parade, we attended a funeral with the De Soto Family, and it was at that time that we knew we were in the right place. The Grand Parade was remarkable. Claire enjoyed walking the parade while I was at the front of the San Cristobal III with the Hern. Neither one of us could believe that this was going to be our life for the next year.

All of our trips together bonded us as a family. There is one trip in particular that we felt pulled us together or was a turning point in our relationship as a family. When we returned from Pepper Fest in Minnesota, we had to stay the night in the Atlanta Airport due to a delayed flight. Mark and Joan were troopers, and Mark made sure to keep watch in the airport while all of us tried to sleep. We knew at that point that Mark had our back.

When asked about our favorite trip, we would, of course, say the experience of visiting Spain was the trip of a lifetime. Still, Winter Carnival and Winnepeg were our favorites because it felt like a big family reunion. We already built relationships with so many people, and to see them again felt like we were at our home away from home.

Being able to represent De Soto for this past year has been a growth experience for both of us. We have learned to live in the moment and to put ourselves out there. We have been forced out of our shell and have learned to be ourselves regardless of who we are around. We have learned to laugh at ourselves as well as keep everyone else in stitches because you just never know what might be coming out of our mouths next.

We would like to offer some advice to the incoming Queen and Princess. Take in every moment! Your life changes the second you are crowned. Don’t sweat the small things and just know that the awkwardness with the Royal Family at the beginning will be short-lived. Also, understand that some of your best friends will be much older and wiser adults. Enjoy the small moments because those are the times that you will cherish for years to come.

Now that we have experienced a year like no other, we would say that our relationship between ourselves and the Royal Family is like no other. We are so open with each other that Claire and I are like sisters. We have cherished every moment together. We laugh and say that we are soulmates because we just understand each other. We love our relationship with our Hern and Captain and could not have asked for a better Royal Family. They try to understand us, and they do a lot of shaking their heads while they are trying to one-up us with the next witty comment.

All and all, we have had the year of a lifetime, and we never imagined that the day we were nominated to be on Queen’s Court that our lives would forever be changed. Every relationship that we have made over the year has molded our experience. We would not change it for the world. This experience has only launched our desire to continue to travel and represent De Soto in the years to come.


Fostering and facilitating an appreciation of Manatee County’s Spanish - American heritage and cultural alliances through special events, community collaborations and charitable giving Since 1939

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