Aquatennial Ambassador Crew

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The Aquatennial Ambassadors represent the Minneapolis Aquatennial at nearly 300 community festivals and events throughout North America each year.

 

The Ambassador Crew consists of the Queen of the Lakes, Commodore, two Aquatennial Princesses and two Captains who volunteer their time and efforts for the AAO.

 

The Senior Ambassadors, supported by the Minneapolis Aquatennial Senior Alumni Association (MASAA) complete the Aquatennial Ambassador Crew with the Senior Queen, Senior Commodore, Senior Princess and Senior Vice-Commodore.

 

At the end of their year of service as an Aquatennial Ambassador, the Queen of the Lakes and Princesses each receive educational scholarships provided by the generous donors and members of the AAO.

 

The Queen of the Lakes began with the Aquatennial's inception in 1940.

When the Ambassador Crew visits a community that sends an Ambassador Candidate to Aquatennial Week, a Queen's Charm is given to the Candidate as her official invitation.

The Commodore
is the primary spokesperson for the AAO and escort of the Queen of the Lakes.

At each festival the Ambassador Crew visits, an Honorary Commodore Award is presented to an outstanding volunteer nominated by the local community.

In recognition of his/her year of service, the Commodore is promoted to Admiral and is given a blue coat.

The Aquatennial Princesses were added to the Ambassador Crew in 1952. 

Similar to the Queen of the Lakes, each Princess wears a Crown featuring a stylized "M" for Minneapolis inside of a heart and waves representing the City's nickname, "The City of Lakes."

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Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes Erika Tillman

From the Community of Hutchinson

Erika is currently attending the University of Wisconsin – Stout where she is pursuing her master’s degree in School Counseling. At school, Erika participates with University Housing and Stout’s Chapter of Habitat for Humanity. When Erika graduates, she hopes to become an elementary school counselor in Minnesota. As an AAO ambassador, Erika is hoping to grow in her leadership skills, communication and confidence.

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Aquatennial Commodore Brent LaSalle

Brent LaSalle grew up in South Minneapolis in the Tangletown neighborhood. He spent many summers hanging out in and around Lake Harriet and the other city lakes.

Brent crossed the river to St. Paul and attended college at Macalester College, and although he came back to Minneapolis to attend Law School at the University of Minnesota, he and his wife have never lived far from Macalester. 

He and his wife Lisbeth have been married for 15 years and have two children: a 13 year old daughter named Eleanor and a 7 year old son named Sam. 

Brent works as a lawyer and a developer with Tapestry Companies, a Development and Management firm with properties in Minnesota and across the country. In addition, Brent served as a 2011-2012 Captain.

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Aquatennial Princess Ariana Velishek

From the Community of Jordan

Ariana is going into her 2nd year of college at St. Catherine University where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science degree in nursing and a minor in Spanish. Ariana plans to become a rehabilitation nurse for veterans in the geriatric community. This year, Ariana aspires to use her bilingual abilities to bridge the communication barrier and connect with members of each community. 

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Aquatennial Captain Paulette Christopher

Paulette was born and raised on a dairy farm in Wadena, MN where she first learned about the festival world serving as a regional dairy princess and county pork queen. She represented the Region 3 Dairy Farmers at the Princess Kay of the Milky Way competition the summer of 1981 and can proudly report she survived the butter sculpting process at the State Fair. 
 
Paulette has a home economics teaching and public relations degree from North Dakota State University and a Masters degree in Teaching & Learning from St. Mary’s University. She recently retired from a rewarding 26 year teaching career and has successfully transitioned to a full time granny nanny for her youngest granddaughter. 
 
Paulette has 3 adult children, 4 grandchildren and a 5th on the way. She was recently married over the 4th of July weekend to retired Naval Commander, Ron Christopher. They currently reside in Burnsville and enjoy spending as much time as possible up north at their lake cabin in Ottertail. 
 
Paulette proudly served as the events coordinator for the Farmington Ambassador Program for 7 years where she cultivated many Aquatennial and festival world connections and friendships. When you meet her, you’ll soon learn that she is committed to faith, family, community service and improving the lives of others one smile and hug at a time. 

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Aquatennial Princess Hannah Rodgers

From the Community of Red Wing

Hannah Rodgers is currently a student at the College of Saint Scholastica pursuing a degree in Biology with plans of attending Physician Assistant school in the future. As an ambassador of the AAO, Hannah is excited to explore the state of Minnesota and beyond while creating new relationships along the way.

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Aquatennial Captain Judy Holmquist

Judy Holmquist has a long history with the festival world! She has served on selection teams for the past 26 years, was a former program director for multiple communities, was a Board Member, and has even been Senior Royalty.

One of the greatest honors for Judy has been serving as a selection team member and program coordinator because she has witnessed how young women mature and prosper in their social and  public speaking skills during their roles as Ambassadors for their community.

Judy retired as a flight attendant after 22 years in March of 2020 and now enjoys being at home in Shakopee. She continues to volunteer and loves spending more time with her 3 children and going to many festivals and parades.

The Aquatennial Captains 

are the primary escorts of the Princesses and responsible for keeping the Aquatennial Crew organized and on-time.

Captains & Commodores are chosen by a nomination committee.  In recognition of their year of service, the Captains are promoted to Commanders and given a gray coat.