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From running shoes to high heels

Wyoming princesses do it a little differently

April 12, 2007

            Washington, D.C. – Each year to welcome the new spring season and enjoy the blooming cherry blossoms, Washington, D.C. celebrates with the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Prior to the start of the festival state societies select a princess to represent their state as a Cherry Blossom Princess. This year’s elected Wyoming 2007 Cherry Blossom princess is Leah Burke of Cheyenne .

            When people think of princesses, visions of tiaras and fancy ball gowns might come to mind but Burke has proven that Wyoming princesses do it a little differently. Besides partaking in the normal activities of a Cherry Blossom Princess with trips to foreign embassies and participating in a parade, Burke, a personal trainer at a local gym and former college track star, literally ran into her term as princess by finishing the Federal Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10 mile run on April 2.

            Burke traded in her running shoes for a pair of heels when she was formally escorted by U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., to the National Conference of State Societies' Cherry Blossom Reception last night. Of the participating state society princesses, one queen will be chosen at random to travel to Japan as a United States delegate for a week long visit.                                           

            "It is an honor to represent the state of Wyoming in the 2007 Cherry Blossom Festival." said Burke, daughter of Denise Burke, Cheyenne , and Dave Burke, Wheatland. "It is amazing to be a part of such a historic tradition celebrating peace and friendship between Japan and the United States . During the festival I have the opportunity to tour various government and international agencies, places of music and dance, and even embassies. One of my favorite activities as Wyoming ’s princess was attending a special breakfast at the White House with Laura Bush."

             Burke, a 2006 graduate of the University of Wyoming with a B.S. in Political Science, works as a staff assistant for Enzi in his Washington, D.C. office. Burke served as the Wyoming Cherry Blossom princess for two weeks and participated in many wide-ranging activities in Washington, D.C. , between March 31-April 15.

             In association with the festival, each year since 1948 state societies have selected a young woman to represent their state as a Cherry Blossom Princess. The Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates a gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington in 1912. The gift represented the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two nations is still being celebrated today. This year’s festival marked the 95th anniversary of the gift.

           Past Cherry Blossom Princesses for Wyoming include Regean Bebout of Riverton in 2005 and Anne Hedderman of Powell in 2006.