Gwen Battad Ishikawa

“Grateful” and “excited” are two words that Alexis Sayuri Okihara used throughout her interview at the Hawaii Hochi, Ltd. offices a week after she was crowned the 64th Cherry Blossom Festival queen.

The 25-year-old yonsei was selected as queen from among 15 contestants. Joining her on the court are First Princess Brittney Kawahara; Princesses Ritsuko Tomari, Kristi Murakami and Asia Ayabe, who was also named Miss Popularity; and Miss Congeniality Dylan Lau.

When her name was called at the Festival Ball on March 26, Okihara said she didn’t know what to think. “It was surreal. I took a deep breath and thought of all I went through this past year. I thought of my parents and was thankful for their support, as well as that of my entire family.”

Okihara was happy that her grandparents — Harold and Ruth Okihara and Herbert and Kimiyo Marutani — flew over from Hilo on the Big Island to support her. After the Festival Ball, she went into the audience to find her family. “When I was finally able to talk to them, we all just cried. There were no words. It was all on our faces. I just tucked my head on Dad’s shoulder and we all shared that moment together.”

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