Livian Eaton was crowned Queen Alalah LXXXVII during the Arkalalah Coronation on Oct. 26 at Cowley College’s Robert Brown Theatre.

Wearing a black evening gown and the traditional purple cape, Eaton cried tears of joy when her name was announced by this year’s mistress of ceremonies, Kristen Boxman.

This coronation, like many that have come before, had both laughter and tears.

The auditorium full of onlookers watched as five young ladies competed for the coveted title of Queen Alalah.

However, the night began with a stage full of young women who had been selected by their communities to represent their hometowns.

These traveling queens, along with the Queen Alalah candidates, performed to “Go to the Mardi Gras” — a song that captured this year’s Arkalalah theme perfectly.

Boxman family tradition

Boxman, who grew up in Arkansas City, served as the first female master of ceremonies in recent memory.

While her parents, Pastor Mark and Lynn Boxman, served as Arkalalah Grand Marshals in 2015, they since have moved away from the community.

“Some of you haven’t forgiven them yet. I haven’t either,” Kristen Boxman said with a quick smile.

Her parents were not the only ones who have been honored during past Arkalalahs.

Boxman’s little brother was in the running for Little Mr. Arkalalah in the late ’90s and her older sister was a Miss Ark City many years later.

“I think I am the funny one,” Kristen said.

Former Queens recognized

The former Queens Alalah were recognized in a more official manner this year, as 19 of them — excluding last year’s Queen Alalah, Kyrstyn Kinzie — graced the stage together.

The oldest of the group, Queen Alalah XVII Treva (Harrison) Chittim, was wheeled onto the stage by a young man. She won the title in 1949.

He was unable to stop her when she put her brakes on and stood before the audience.

She received a standing ovation, before being joined by the other former queens.

“You can’t do that for everyone, now,” Boxman said, “We’d be here all night!”

Varied entertainment

Another departure from the tradition of previous years included a performance by this year’s Miss Kansas 2018, Hannah Klaassen.

Klaassen is one of two Miss Kansas titleholders who hail from Arkansas City, the last having been crowned more than six decades prior.

Boxman also served as the mistress of ceremonies for Klaassen’s Miss Kansas Premiere event, which was held in August in Arkansas City.

Klaassen’s piece was the same dance she performed during the premiere and as her talent at the Miss America pageant, “The Greatest Show.”

Klaassen’s was not the only entertainment during the coronation. In addition to two vocal groups, A.I.M. Dance Studios performed.

The Prairie Voice and Journey Kids choirs both performed two pieces each. The latter group encouraged the audience to sing along to a medley of songs about America.

Candidates share stories

Each Queen Alalah finalist presented a short video, introducing herself and explaining what her journey in life has been like thus far.

From Halle Bucher’s touching thank-you to her father and her mother, Arkalalah Executive Committee secretary Tasha Bucher, to Cameryn Campbell’s encouraging story of overcoming the odds attached to broken homes, each girl let the audience into her lives.

Thais Lindemayer Gomes, an exchange student from Brazil who speaks four languages, seemed to garner the loudest applause from the crowd after sharing her story of hard work and determination, which had made her dreams of studying abroad a reality.

And Morgan Hettenbach spoke at some length about her solid connection to her favorite holiday — Arkalalah.

But Eaton — whose parents, Curtis and Miyuki Eaton, own Mid-West Electric in downtown Arkansas City — ultimately came out on top.

Queen Alalah LXXXVII

Eaton is taking pre-nursing courses at Cowley College and wishes to become a registered nurse by studying at Washburn University in Topeka.

She was named Miss Parkerfield in 2017 and, when she graduated from Arkansas City High School last spring, she had 32 college credit-hours under her belt already, thanks her hard work in taking concurrent credit courses.

When she was named Queen Alalah LXXXVII, the shock Eaton felt was apparent on her face, but the other candidates, all of whom spent the last week forming bonds with her, also celebrated with her after she donned the ceremonial crown and cape.

All five ladies will be featured in the Arkalalah Big Parade starting at 2 p.m. Oct. 27 in downtown Arkansas City.