Wrangell’s 4th of July celebrations all start with the queen booths. For the month of June, local high school students and recent grads volunteer to serve food and sell raffle tickets to fundraise for next year’s 4th. Plus they line their own pockets. This year only one candidate put her name in the hat.
Running a food booth is a ton of work, everyone in Wrangell knows that. It’s a large undertaking for the young adults, families and organizations that give up their entire month to hustle and feed the community.
This year marks the first time that only one candidate and their crew has stepped up to the challenge.
The queen booths had its official start in 1950, with the goal of fundraising for the next year’s fireworks and other 4th of July festivities. Typically young women and their families join in to raise money for the cause, with the added incentive of walking away with thousands of dollars in their own pockets.
Jessica Whittaker is the royalty contest manager this year, as she has been in the past.
“Usually there’s this lunch rush, and when you only have one booth you try to get through people as quickly as you can and help serve as many people as possible. But when you have multiple booths it obviously would help alleviate that stress that comes with the lunch rush.”
But that could mean even more earnings for the one candidate. Last year’s candidates sold over $100,000 in raffle tickets alone. Candidates and their managers receive about a third of those earnings.
“They’ll get to be busy all day, every day, because they’ll be the only option.”
The Chamber of Commerce says others took an interest in the contest. One group of girls were too young to drive, and thought that might hinder them. Another group had one of their teammates pull out.
So, Abbi Gerald is the lone candidate. She graduated from Wrangell High School this year. She played basketball. She and her family are involved in the Assembly of God Harbor Light Church. Her dad, Matt Gerald, is her booth manager. Aleisha Mollen is her ticket manager.
Gerald and her crew will kick off the queen booth season on May 31 at 6pm with appetizers at the downtown pavilion.
And with Gerald as the sole candidate, regardless of how much money she raises, one thing is certain- she’ll get her crown.