Posted by: Maya Wilson, Tulip Court

Wednesday August 19, 2020


August Blog

Hello everyone! My name is Maya Wilson and I am thrilled to be a part of the 2020 Albany Tulip court! This is a year like no other, but I am extremely excited and eager to get this year started with an amazing group of girls who I get serve Albany with! We have a lot instore for you! We are in the process of planning a very exciting Podcast along with our literacy program that is going to be so unique with lots to offer the children in the community! Please make sure to follow us on social media so you can stay up to date with what the court is planning and feel free come and be involved during any event

Social Media:

Instagram - @albanytulipcourt
Facebook - Albany Tulip Queen and Court

Posted by: Kaya Rifenberg - Stempel, Tulip Queen

Tuesday July 28, 2020


Hello, Albany!

My name is Kaya Rifenberg-Stempel, and I'm so excited to introduce myself to you all as the 2020 Tulip Queen! I am grateful that, despite these unprecedented times, we are still able to uphold this wonderful tradition, and my fellow court members and I are remaining optimistic about the impact that we can make during this epidemic. As a lifelong Albany County resident, I know that our community will stand strong to face these challenges, and the 2020 Tulip Court is here to help in any way that we can. As a senior studying political science and foreign languages at UAlbany, I hope to spread knowledge about languages, culture, art, and music throughout the city. Furthermore, my lovely court members - Karina, Kimberly, Maya, Sam- and I are especially looking forward to developing a lasting literacy program that will flourish in spite of coronavirus restrictions. We have to be hopeful and remember the positive things that life has to offer (mozzarella sticks with melba sauce, for instance, or perhaps even steamed hams).

To paraphrase the 1986 classic song "Let's Have a Party, Albany" Albany deserves the best!

The 2020 Tulip Court will make the most out of this year to serve you the best that we can. Stay safe out there, everyone, and thank you for reading!


Posted by: Sawyer Cresap, Tulip Queen

Wednesday May 22, 2019


Thank you!

It’s hard to believe it’s been an entire year since the last time the 2018 Albany Tulip Court and I began this journey. We could never have imagined the transformational year we were about to experience. 

For the past twelve months, we have served as ambassadors of the city, volunteering at over one hundred Albany-area events and programs and helping support the people who bring our city to life and make Albany a nurturing place to live, learn, and grow. Together we have dedicated almost 1,000 hours to this mission, 300 of which were focused directly on literacy-related programs. 

This year, we have had the privilege walking in parades, dancing in festivals, reading stories with local schools, calling BINGO games, serving meals at senior picnics, painting the faces of smiling children, restoring used books for new eager readers, and serving beside generous volunteers in pursuit of a common goal. We have loved attending each and every program and meeting so many wonderful people all connected by the place we call home. 

More than once, we witnessed a special moment watching a child’s face light up when they see us in the community, reminding us that in this role, we are examples to young people. This was never truer than during our literacy program, "Write About It, Be About It," a series of workshops helping youth write their own "future autobiographies” by setting their own goal and determining how they will achieve it. From making the basketball team to graduating high school, we heard so many brave and ambitious goals that kids and teens in our city are striving towards. We hope our conversations with them have revealed a broader, clearer picture of what it can mean to be successful, one that has room in it for everyone, and encourages in kids that each of us has agency over the direction of our one life.  

Nothing accomplished this year would have been possible without the four intelligent and dedicated women I served alongside, Katie, Xavia, Natalie, and Betsy. This time last year, we were strangers, five women in different points in their lives working towards different goals. I am so grateful that we are now close friends, the people I depend on, share so much in common with, have so much respect and admiration for. 

As this celebration began in the friendship between two cities, Albany and Nijmegen, the five of us have continued that friendship everyday. 

To Emily and the rest of the 2019 Tulip Court, Bella, Megan, Parneet, and Michaela: I look forward to seeing your service to the community blossom in this special role, developing into a new chapter of this incredible program, and showing you new sides of yourselves too. Know that 70 years of Tulip Queen and Court members stand behind you, supporting you all the way.


2018 Albany Tulip Queen

Posted by: Elizabeth Stenard, Tulip Court

Tuesday April 30, 2019


Our Final Month as the 2018 Tulip Queen and Court!

It seems the month of April had hardly started before it was over - Which is precisely how our year as the 2018 Tulip Court feels. It is hard to imagine it is almost time for the 2019 Tulip Festival! Our last full month as the current Tulip court has been exciting, as well as, emotional for us as we attended our final events. We have enjoyed our year of service in Albany. We now shift gears to the Tulip Festival which is quickly approaching. We have already begun many exciting preparations.

While the future 2019 court was still in the midst of nominations and interviews this month, we have been busy finishing up our own projects and finalizing plans for the upcoming weeks. This month we wrapped up our Red Bookshelf Book Drive which was a huge success! Our Tulip Court, and the generosity of the community, made it possible to collect and donate over 1300 books to the Red Book Shelf. This non-profit organization allows children to have free access to the true joy of reading and owning your very own book. Being able to change children’s lives and have an impact on our community is special and something we are proud to have participated in. We also had the pleasure of meeting Junior Miss Spirit of the Capital District, Savannah Skye. Savannah held her own Book Drive and joined us for the book donation event. Way to go, Savannah!

Also this month, Sawyer and I attended the meeting of the Dutch Settlers Society where we watched an interesting film featuring the history of the relationship between Albany and Nijmegen, our sister city of The Netherlands. Focusing on the fluctuating penpal history between the two cities that began in the 1940s, we were able to walk away with a much greater understanding of the depth of the friendship that bonds our cities. Preserving that friendship for generations to come is an important priority for the City of Albany. It is a beautiful thing to see the generous friendship between two communities over a long span of time. Thank you to the members of the Dutch Settlers Society for inviting us, and thank you to the ambassadors of Nijmegen, Anja Adriaans and her husband, for sharing an important part of Albany’s history with us. It is our hope that we will continue to build this relationship for generations to come.

Our last event, before the start of Tulip Festival, was the Growing Readers Baby Shower, hosted by the Arbor Hill Public Library. At this fun-filled event, parents and children five years old and under were given the goal to read as many books as possible before kindergarten. We had a great time face painting and talking with all the intelligent young readers at the library. Keep reading! Thank you to the Albany Public Library for inviting us to be a part of this program. I cannot think of a more appropriate conclusion to our year of service.

We are excited to introduce Albany to the 2019 Tulip Court in the coming weeks! Be sure to keep an eye out for us on our social media at the Macy’s Fashion Show, the Tulip Luncheon and Royal Tulip Ball!

Posted by: Natalie Joseph, Tulip Court

Tuesday April 23, 2019


Spring Update!

Hi everyone!


I am happy to update you all on how amazing the Tulip Queen and Court have been doing since our last update. We have had the honor of implementing our literacy program Write About it Be About it, at four different locations. We attended Kids Day at the Plaza, where we also got the opportunity to teach about our literacy program and walked in the St. Patricks Day Parade.  


During our March literacy program the Tulip Queen and Court teamed up with the middle school CRU club at Christ Church Albany. Together these nine amazing young women set ambitious and empathetic goals like what success means to each of them, who their heroes are, and how they can be a role model for one another. They even created a unique vision board with all of their ideas and goals.


As we continue to make a difference in our community and wrap up our 2018 reign, stay tuned for our Queen and other Court members to update you on our year. We have so much more coming your way!


Tulip Love,




Posted by: Xavia Francis, Tulip Court

Friday March 1, 2019


Winter Recap!

Hello everyone, my name is Xavia Francis and I am a member of the 2018 Albany Tulip Court. The winter months saw the Tulips bringing the holidays of cheer and family and starting the year of 2019 off strong. The Tulips took part in the City Hall Tree Lighting ceremony at City Hall where the Tulips did holiday arts and crafts with the children who came out to the event, and we helped Mayor Kathy Sheehan to flip the switch to light the tree at City Hall. The Tulips also attended the NYS Holiday Tree Lighting at the Empire State Plaza where we spent our time in the Kids Zone doing arts and crafts and enjoying the musical stylings of the Capital District Flute Club. We were able to step back and take the time to remember what the holiday seasons are truly about being grateful for the people in our lives. We hope you all were able to enjoy your holidays as much as we did.


As January came the Tulips were able to effectively implement our third session of our Write About it Be About It literacy program with the kids of the NYS Museum after school program. It is always a pleasure to work with more and more young people and inspire them to achieve their goals. Not only did the Tulips complete another successful session of our literacy program, but we also made a surprise visit at All Saints Catholic Academy where the Tulips were Mystery Readers. The Tulips were also able to keep their commitment to volunteering with the Red Bookshelf at least once a month, and we will continue this commitment as time goes on.


Finally, another birthday shout out to Tulip Court members Betsy Stenard, Katie Donnelly, and myself who had birthdays in the months of January and February!


 To keep up-to-date on where we are around Albany, remember to follow us on Facebook at @AlbanyTulipCourt and on our Instagram at @AlbanyTulipCourt. Come say hello and we hope to see you soon, thank you!


Xavia Francis

Posted by: Sawyer Cresap, Tulip Queen

Friday December 21, 2018


Write About It, Be About It: 2018 Literacy Program Debut

Each year, the Albany Tulip Queen and Court have the opportunity to facilitate a program in the Albany community intended to promote literacy skills. It is one of the most special aspects of our role. In prior years, the Court has teamed up with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, 15 Love, and Girls Inc. to host programs aimed at helping youth practice and enjoy reading and writing. 

This year, the Court and I have created a program called "Write About It, Be About It," a workshop allowing youth write their own "future autobiographies", setting their own goals, and determining how they will achieve them. Through a series of four after-school workshops, we are introducing youth to conversations about dreaming big and thinking through how they can reach their goals. From making the basketball team, to becoming a dentist, or passing your Regents exams to graduate high school, we have heard all kinds of ambitions the kids and teens in our community are striving towards. With games, writing exercises and conversations through the lens goal setting, youth have the opportunity to practice writing while developing action plans to achieve their dreams. For some it means staying after school with their teacher and asking questions in class. For others it’s making time at home to practice their sport, or continuing to check books out from the library to read on weekends. Whatever the steps, kids build their map towards their future success story and use it to write their own autobiography showing how they achieved their goal. There is nothing better than seeing the excitement when a child learns they will get to make their very own book about whatever they want. We hope that these stories youth tell about themselves help them become exactly the person they want to be – whoever that may be.

So far, we have facilitated this program with youth at the Albany Public Library Delaware Avenue Branch, reaching kids grades 3 and up. It has been so moving to listen to youth articulate their understanding of goals and reflect independently about their own. We will be visiting students in the Albany Police Athletic League after-school program. We can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

If you know of an organization that could benefit from this program, please be in touch by emailing

Until next time,



Posted by: Elizabeth Stenard, Tulip Court

Tuesday November 20, 2018


Summer Recap!

Hello everyone! My name is Betsy Stenard and I am a member 2018 Albany Tulip Court. The Queen and Court have had an action- packed summer filled with joyous festivals, lively parades, and other fun-filled events! It has been a special experience to share in  these meaningful Albany traditions, many of which I remember attending years before as a kid. Having lived in Albany my whole life, these opportunities for greater involvement in my city are even more meaningful to me as a member of the Tulip Court. As for the Tulip Court, these events have developed in us a greater appreciation for the city in which we live and an understanding that it is the people more than anything else that make Albany special and unique. From our very first event at Tulip Festival celebrating Mother’s Day, to our most recent face painting activity at “Movies in the Park”, we have all witnessed countless families enjoying the beautiful weather and fun activities together, demonstrating the very reason these events exist in Albany: to bring people and families together and to create a better community by doing so. Getting to talk with children about their favorite superhero, their hobbies, or their schools and to speak with parents about their children is truly an enriching experience and one that is special every time. Alive at Five, the Senior Picnics, Family Fun Day, the Movies in the Park, and so many other events have given us the chance to befriend many people and hopefully, leave a positive impact on them as well. With that said, planning our literacy program is well under way and we cannot wait to share it with you all!

To keep up-to-date on where we are around Albany, remember to follow us on Facebook at @AlbanyTulipCourt and on our Instagram at @AlbanyTulipCourt . Come say hello and we hope to see you soon, thank you!

Betsy Stenard

Posted by: Natalie Joseph, Tulip Court

Tuesday October 2, 2018


Hello everyone!

 My name is Natalie Joseph, and I am one of the four Court Members on this year’s Albany Tulip Court. Albany has definitely been keeping the Queen and her Court busy and on their toes! We are learning something new about our city each day.


Our most recent event was the Upper Madison Street Fair. This event was so much fun because not only was the weather beautiful but we got to meet and talk with just about everyone. We really enjoyed reading to the kids. Curious George was definitely one of their favorite books. Some previous events we attended this past month was RED Bookshelf Book Reconditioning, Movies in the Park, Jazz Festival, Christ's Church Holy Smokes BBQ, Meet Munch & More, and Family Fun Day Reading. My most rewarding event was the RED Bookshelf Book Reconditioning because it gives the opportunity to clean up books and give them to children who are less fortunate for FREE. I mean who doesn't love free books!?


Coming up, the Albany Tulip Queen and Court will be attending Chilli Fest at Christ’s Church Albany on Sunday, September 30th from 12:00-2:00 pm. So make sure you stop by with friends and family to enjoy live music, delicious chili, and of course meet your Queen and Court for some face painting.


Lastly, don’t forget to stay updated with us and keep following our journey to see what else we have in store for you guys. Make sure to keep a lookout for our literacy program. You can follow us on our Facebook and Instagram page @AlbanyTulipCourt and look out for future blog post.



Tulip Love,

Natalie Joseph

Posted by: Katherine Donnelly, Tulip Court

Tuesday August 21, 2018


A Midsummer’s Night Dream

My name is Katie Donnelly, and I am a member of the 2018 Albany Tulip Court. It has been a very busy summer for the 2018 Albany Tulip Queen and Court! Between twirling, reading, face painting and Movies Under the Stars we have had lots of good laughs, met lots of great people and enjoyed many beautiful days outside in and around the Capital Region. Some places that we have visited during these last few summer months include, but are not limited to; Indian Ladder Farms, Malcolm X Park, The RED Bookshelf, Peeble’s Island State Park and of course the Empire State Plaza. In honor of National Night Out, an annual campaign to build relationships between local police forces and the community, the 2018 Albany Tulip Court attended the South End and Mansion Neighborhoods’ National Night Out just this past week in downtown Albany. The nationwide event aims to create community partnerships to make local neighborhoods a safer place to live. The event also allowed us the opportunity to connect with local community members and vendors in a fun and upbeat environment. It was a great event and a fun night had by all! 


The 2018 Albany Tulip Court ended the 2018 Alive at Five season, under the 787 overpass with some great tunes and good times. We would like to thank everyone that came out and danced, twirled and or took pictures with us! It was a pleasure meeting so many new faces and reconnecting with old friends. Make sure to join us for the 17thAnnual Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival, September 8that Jennings Landing 1:00 to 9:00 PM. 


These coming months will be just as busy for the 2018 Albany Tulip Queen and Court. We have been working hard on our new literacy program and are so excited to share it with all of you soon! Follow us on Facebook at @AlbanyTulipCourt or on Instagram at @AlbanyTulipCourt to learn more about what the 2018 Albany Tulip Court has been up to and all the fun things we have planned for these next few months! 


We hope to see you at our upcoming events! #2018AlbanyTulipCourt



Posted by: Sawyer Cresap, Tulip Queen

Wednesday June 27, 2018


Hello Albany!

Hi there,


My name is Sawyer Cresap, and I am so happy to write to you as this year’s Albany Tulip Queen. Having grown up in Bethlehem, graduated from Voorheesville High School, and now as a resident of the City of Albany, the Capital Region is my home, and it is truly an honor to serve my community in this long-celebrated role. As a two-year service member in AmeriCorps, and now in my work as a Volunteer Coordinator, I recognize the difference service makes in our city and in our world. My fellow Court members, Katie, Xavia, Natalie, and Betsy, are incredibly involved in their own communities, and together we are dedicated to giving our time and hearts across Albany this year to carrying forward this tradition in the spirit of 70 years of women leaders who have made this program what it is today.


Together we act as ambassadors of the city, volunteering at dozens of Albany-area events and programs throughout the year, and helping support the people who bring our city to life and make Albany a nurturing place to live, learn, and grow. Since our coronation at this year’s Tulip Festival, we have hit the ground running attending and assisting with so many unique opportunities. We scooped free ice cream to kids and families at the opening day of the New Covenant Church farmers market, crowned the 2018 Mother of the Year, read books with first grade classes at Eagle Point Elementary School, danced the traditional opening number at the St. Sophia Grecian Festival, called BINGO games at the Kenwood Manor, painted faces at free summer movies in the park, and much, much more. We have loved attending each and every one of these programs and meeting so many wonderful people all connected by the special tie of home.


More than once, we have witnessed a special moment watching a child’s face light up when they see us in the community, reminding us that in this role, we are examples to young people. This year we will be working on behalf of Mayor Sheehan’s literacy campaign to develop our program encouraging youth to practice their reading and writing skills and enjoy the amazing adventures books can bring. We look forward to working with existing literacy organizations and community partners to develop our project and share it with Albany’s youth in a meaningful way.


We would love to meet you throughout the year, please say hello when you see us at any of our upcoming events and stay updated on our year through our Facebook and Instagram pages: @AlbanyTulipCourt. We encourage all community members to reach out if you would like to request our involvement in an event or program. These requests can be sent via the Albany Tulip Queen web page link at: We can’t wait to hear from you all and look forward to sharing more throughout our year of service.






Posted by: Ashley Loggins, Tulip Queen

Wednesday May 16, 2018


Thank You

In Gordon B. Hinckley’s book “Standing for Something”, he states, “The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more tired. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who serves almost always benefits more than he or she who is served.” As I reflect on what this past year has meant to me, I believe this quote holds true. There were several times where one of us had a scheduling conflict, where we were running on little sleep, or were worried about a presentation or assignment at school or work. Despite this, every time we were together, each member dedicated their full selves, brought passion and creative ideas, and supported one another. I cannot think of another organization that can provide you such resources and friendship.

Throughout the past 365 days, the five of us in total have dedicated almost 1000 hours to the Tulip Queen and Court program, with over 60% of this being hands on community service. Of course, there were also the times where we walked in parades, ate delicious food at cultural festivals, and attended concerts. This program is an opportunity to learn about the traditions and rich heritage of my hometown of Albany. It is an introduction to a friendship with four other hard working and driven young women to work alongside you for an entire year. It is a behind the scenes look at some of Albany’s biggest events, and spending more time than you thought you’d ever get to spend with the Mayor of Albany. It is a lifetime support system. But most importantly, it is a year of your life dedicated to the service and needs of the community around you, while promoting others to do the same. I feel so fortunate to have been selected to become involved in this program steeped with 70 years of tradition. We got to be front and center for many Albany events, including Alive at Five, Memorial Day and St. Patrick’s Day Parades, 4th of July Fireworks at the Empire State Plaza, Tulip Festival (of course), and many more.

The most integral part of our year was the implementation of our literacy program. Our program, R.E.P. Yourself, allowed students to reflect on their past, embrace the present, and prepare for the future through writing about their personal experiences and unique goals. Each student’s work was also published on our R.E.P. Yourself Literacy website. Working with students from these local organizations has been a learning experience for them, but also for us. Our impact was noted when they would ask when the court is coming back to work again, and we’d have to explain that a new group of girls would be taking over the court soon, and that maybe they would be coming in in the future.

We would not have been able to accomplish so many of our goals without one another. I feel so fortunate to not only have had this opportunity, but to have been blessed with such supportive and hardworking court members. Erin, Kelly, Julianna, and Amanda: I am so happy that you were on this journey with me, and I look forward to seeing the success you create for yourselves in the future.

To the 2018 Tulip Queen, Sawyer, and her court, Katie, Xavia, Natalie, and Betsy: Do not take any of the time spent together for granted. Get to know one another and learn how to work together, and then embrace the opportunity. Build friendships, and don’t let the hectic moments allow you to forget why you got involved in this program. There are no limits to what you all can accomplish.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve as an ambassador to the City of Albany as the 2017 Albany Tulip Queen. I look forward to my future involvement with this program, and seeing what legacies the next young women will leave. It has been an amazing journey.


Ashley Loggins

Posted by: 2017 Tulp Court,

Friday May 4, 2018


Thank You

The four of us on the Court—Erin, Kelly, Julianna, and Amanda—would each like to share personal messages before the end of our reign. Be on the lookout for the 2017 Tulip Queen’s final blog post, where Ashley will also share her final reflections.


This year, the Albany Tulip Court has focused our attention on strengthening our community through service, as well as cultivating the education of our young leaders. During one of our literacy programs, we led yoga workshops with children to demonstrate “Embracing the Present.” We asked them to try their best to stay focused during the exercise, but to take note when their minds started to wander. As you can imagine, the children were goofy and chatty; the room was not still. And that’s because staying present is hard stuff. 
My involvement in the Albany Tulip Court has been a learning opportunity in this regard, as well. As Dr. Brene Brown writes in her work Rising Strong, “We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.” For me, that has meant learning to be engaged in our work; to take the time to connect with others; to dig deep when I am worried or thinking ahead; and to more fully understand and appreciate the impact of giving. I am grateful for every experience we have had this year; alongside all the joy and fun times, it has also allowed me to practice what I find hard and challenging. Thank you to all those involved in making this opportunity possible for me. I will carry the many lessons I’ve learned this year with me as I move forward.
It is my hope this next court, as well as those to come, is able to use this platform to not only do the good work for our community, but also to utilize this opportunity for reflection and personal growth—in whatever shape that may take for each of you. Good luck and take care.

Erin Bryk


As the 2017 Albany Tulip Court is wrapping up our year I would like to thank the literacy campaign community partners. The Boys and Girls Club of Albany, 15 Love, and the Albany YMCA out of North Albany Academy have been such inspiring and passionate youth to work alongside, and it’s been fulfilling to discover how they interpreted the literacy program “R.E.P. Yourself.” It has been a wonderful experience for me to be the liaison between the Albany Tulip Court and these partners. During my undergraduate studies at Siena College and my community service with the Bonner Service Leaders Program, I was able to serve these organizations in the past. It was great to be able to coordinate with these non-profits again during my year of service on the Albany Tulip Court.

I am hoping the 2018 Albany Tulip Court is blessed with as many amazing connections and experiences as we were throughout our year of reign. The community partners that we have within the Capital District lead to an overwhelming sense of community. I look forward to seeing the successes of the 2018 Albany Tulip Court in the future.

Wishing everyone well,
Kelly Phillips


As our reign sadly comes to an end, I realize that being on the 2017 Albany Tulip Court is an experience I will never forget. Although I have many reasons to be grateful for my time, and many community service events to gladly reflect on, I am most thankful for having the opportunity to work alongside four empowering individuals - Erin, Ashley, Kelly, and Amanda. I have made life-long friends with four inspirational women who I know have the power to change the world, and who I know will. Because of these women I have grown as an individual, learning from their experiences to create my best possible self. I look forward to seeing what they do in the future and wish them the best of luck in all of their endeavours - they will prosper and go on to do things beyond belief.

I would also like to reflect on an accomplishment of ours which I am very proud of - establishing a website for R.E.P. Yourself that allows readers to see the work that was created by participants of our program. You can search Albany R.E.P. Yourself to see the stories of children from your community.

I am incredibly grateful for having been selected to be part of an organization that advocates for literacy, something I am incredibly passionate about. Because of my experience on the 2017 Tulip Court, I was able to do what I love most. I hope the 2018 Tulip Queen & Court experience this too. I wish them the best of luck and ask that they stay true to such an honorable legacy.

Before I officially say goodbye, I would like to leave on one particular note that I ask every reader to hold close to their hearts:

Understanding each other’s differences and embracing diversity is the only way to join in union with one another, and the only way to prosper as one race; the human race. Always remember that everyone has a voice, and it deserves to be heard.

Thank you for your everlasting love and support Albany,
Julianna Rauf

I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. When this year first started I remember questioning if I was cut out for it. One of the first things I learned this year was that you can do anything you set your mind and heart to. I have worked with four other incredible women for nearly 1,000 hours of community service and many more just for fun occasions. I have learned so much about each of them. Ashley, Julianna, Erin, and Kelly are all uniquely brilliant, wonderful, and strong.

As an Albany Tulip Court member I really enjoyed the opportunity to work with children in a role model context. I have never wanted to be a teacher or work in education but I have seen how much literacy can impact someone's life. Being an agent in a goal to 100% literacy in our country is an incredible honor and I believe we lived up to it.

The new court will bring their own flare and flavor to the Tulip literacy program and I cannot wait to see what they achieve. I want to thank all of our mentors along the way, my family, my boyfriend Jon, and most importantly my sister Sarah. Sarah’s past work as 2008 Tulip Queen and guidance encouraged me to get to where I am today. It has been an incredible year and I feel so lucky to be a part of this special family.

With love,
Amanda Volk


Finally, we would all like to thank the 2017 Committee Members, particularly Amy Kaplan, Nicole Sisto-French, Ryan Murray for selecting us to be part of an empowering organization that dedicates time and commitment to the Albany community, something we are all incredibly passionate about. Because of you, we were able to do what we love. But more importantly, because of you, Tulip helps Albany’s community thrive.

We wish the absolute best of luck to the 2018 Tulip Queen & Court and look forward to seeing the incredible difference the five of them will make. We wish you Godspeed in your efforts to come.

With gratitude and appreciation for your support,
The 2017 Albany Tulip Court

Posted by: Kelly Phillips, Tulip Court

Wednesday February 14, 2018


Boys and Girls Club Recap with Sonya Baker and Student Writing Samples!

During the months of November and December we spent several weeks working with the students of the Boys and Girls Club After School Program. The After School Program Director of the Delaware Ave location, Sonya Baker, was extremely great to work with. We are grateful for how flexible and understanding she was throughout the whole experience.


A few weeks after the concluding our program, I had the opportunity to recap about program with Sonya. She said, “On behalf of the Boys and Girls Club of Albany, we appreciate all volunteers who take time out of their busy schedules to work with the diverse youth we serve. I believe that volunteers are an essential part to the club and enable us to continue serving the youth in our community who need us the most. I believe that the R.E.P Yourself Program that the Tulip Court brought to our youth was an excellent and fun way to get children to express themselves and learn at the same time.”

We have been able to collect awesome stories from students about what they have learned from their past, what they are doing and how they feel in the present, and where they plan to be in the future.


My mom went to UAlbany College in Albany. After college she got a job at a construction development company in Albany. My grandmas, grandpas, aunts, and uncles live in Brooklyn where she grew up. We went to visit them. Sometimes we take the bus and sometimes we take the train. We stay with my grandma. We go down for the holidays. We used to go to Brooklyn for my birthday but we don’t anymore. My birthday is my favorite holiday. My birthday is in March. I like to celebrate my birthday with my family. – BGC student age 11



I see children and adults in the room. I also feel negativity and positivity in here. I see a lot of cultures in this room. I see a lot of colors. I feel happy but also curious to explore. I see the sky out the window and it is dark. It makes me feel tired. I see candy and it makes me feel hungry. I see shapes in the room. It makes me feel optimistic. I see the Tulip Court in the room. I feel encouraged.– BGC student age 11



In my future my goal is to get past high school and to pass college and be a professional basketball player. Right now I am at TOAST and I play basketball as my hobby. To get to my goal I will pass middle school and be on the middle school basketball team. The skills that I have are dribbling, shooting, and driving to the hoop. I need to work on defense because defense wins games and I need to work on it. I will work on my defense by playing on the varsity basketball team. I hope I have a good coach that will help me with my defense. My next goal is to pass high school and travel to play basketball. My next step would be to play college basketball. This would help me to be able to be a professional basketball player.– BCG student age 11


Keep an eye out for more posts here: and from our second organization, 15 Love!


Best, Kelly

Posted by: Erin Bryk, Tulip Court

Monday January 22, 2018


Q & A with the Tulip Queen, Ashley Loggins

The five of us on the Albany Tulip Court recently met over coffee to reflect on R.E.P. Yourself, our literacy program that was recently implemented at the Boys and Girls Club of Albany. The purpose of the program is to provide a space for students to think critically about their past, present, and future. We strive to empower students with the educational and leadership tools necessary for success, as well as cultivate a strong sense of personal identity and community.  


In this Q & A, Ashley provides her personal reflections on the program and insight into the remainder of our year on the Albany Tulip Court.


Q: Is there a particularly memorable moment from the Literacy Program at the Boys & Girls Club? 


A: I thoroughly enjoyed reading each student’s writing at the end of the day. The students at the Boys and Girls Club were so thoughtful and creative for their age. One student was particularly imaginative--she wrote a personal history, looking back at her entire life. I enjoyed being able to learn about each individual student through their writing: what have they experienced up to this point? what are they most interested in? what do they see for themselves moving forward? It was exactly what we hoped to achieve through this program.


I also loved the ice-breaker activities. Despite their long days at school, the students were playful, engaged, and interested. The ice breakers were a great indicator that the group already had a great dynamic and that we could build upon.


Q: We’ve had some time to reflect since the end of the program. From your perspective: what about the program worked? Were there certain components of the program that you think really clicked with the students?


A: We were very direct with the students. We explained our intentions and led discussions, so the students could understand how each day of the program connects to the next. It was helpful, for example, to the students to get a greater understanding of how embracing the present will help them be successful and achieve their dreams in the future. Literacy is the large component to being able to have a successful career and make a meaningful life for yourself. Having these reflections and concrete goals in writing seemed to click and demonstrate to the students what they can do today to help themselves tomorrow.


Q: We have the upcoming program this month at 15 Love, another non-profit organization that serves the Albany community. Moving forward, what do we plan to do to further improve the program? Are there any new things we intend to try at our next session?


A: Our next implementation of the literacy program begins at 15 Love on Tuesday, January 23rd. The program will be six weeks long, rather than three. It is our hope to dive deeper with the students and provide more time to develop and edit their writing. We are extremely excited to get to work with even more students.


Furthermore, we got the sense at the Boys & Girls Club that the students wanted us to share more of ourselves with them. At the upcoming program, the five of us plan to share examples of our own past experiences and discuss our personal goals and challenges.


Q: How has this experience shaped your perspective on education? How has it shaped you as a leader?


A: My background is in STEM, not education, so I am continuously learning during this program about how this next generation of students think and learn. Through trial and error, I amas all of us on the Court arelearning which techniques, approaches, and activities are the most beneficial to students. Our willingness to innovate and adapt has been imperative to our program. It’s helped us keep students engaged in the work we are doing through the REP Yourself Program.


This experience has helped me as a leader learn how to speak confidently and with purpose. Children can only be as interested in an activity as you show them, and for us to truly be able to teach this program we must fully believe in the purpose behind it.


Q: Thank you for your reflections on the program. On another note, we are halfway through our year on the Tulip Court. Looking back, what are you proud of? What should the public expect from us for the remainder of our time on the Court?


A: I am extremely proud of how many people in Albany County we have been able to reach. We have worked with dozens of organizations and have had so many amazing opportunities to promote literacy and community involvement. Time after time, we go to an event and see people that we recognize from our work earlier on in the year.


To date, we have spent over 400 hours between the five of us on community service involvement, and spent close to 700 hours on Tulip Court activities as a whole, including planning meeting and official city events. This experience has taught me so much, and I am looking forward to the remaining months. You can look forward to the implementation of the REP Yourself Program in more Albany non-profits organizations for 2018.


Although I am sad to think that our time on the Tulip Court will soon come to an end, we are looking forward to meeting the next group of empowering women. In the upcoming months, we will be helping spread the word of the nomination process for the 2018 Albany Tulip Queen and Court, which is now open. If you are interested, contact us to learn more. We are more than happy to chat and answer any questions you may have about the program. We want all qualified young women interested to be able to experience this wonderful opportunity!

Posted by: Amanda Volk, Tulip Court

Friday October 13, 2017


October Update

Hello everyone! We hope your first month or two of school has gone well. The fall is in full swing and the Tulips are still busy.

Our most recent event was the Albany Barn Block Party. This event was such a great opportunity to get to know more members of Albany’s community. It was a blast and we enjoyed meeting and talking to so many people. We also participated in the Health Fair hosted by the St. Peter’s Clinic on South Pearl Street. We were able to put our face painting skills to the test. One little member of the Albany community specifically requested to paint the Tulip Queen’s face. How could we say no!? Earlier in October we attended Eagle Point Elementary’s Literacy Night. At Eagle Point we help children through reading recipe instructions to make pudding. We were so impressed with not only their creations, but also their reading skills!

Coming up for October and November are some exciting events you can catch us at. We will be at many of the Cash for Coats events throughout the fall. Cash for Coats will be taking donations at The Palace Theater to purchase new coats and winter clothing for Albany school children in need. We will be at the October 23rd and November 3rd Cash for Coats events!  Help the city give warmth to those who need it. We will also be at Festival of Nations. We are so excited for this one! Festival of Nations is a great opportunity to learn about and experience new cultures while staying right here in Albany. We hope to see you at all these events and many more!

With Thanksgiving around the corner it’s a time to remember to be thankful. The Albany Tulip Court wants to thank an organization for their dedication to Albany as well as including us in all of their fun! The Christ’s Church of Albany held several Movie under the Stars events throughout the summer. These events provided a free movie, music, and snacks to anyone who attended! They were an awesome opportunity for the community to come together and have some fun.

Next month’s blog post will be done by the wonderful Tulip Queen, Ashley Loggins. She will go in depth about our literacy program and all it will have to offer. Stay tuned for that update. Remember you can request the 2017 Tulip Queen and Court by going to the home page and selecting Request the Queen and Court.

Until then, have a Happy Halloween!

Amanda Volk

Posted by: Kelly Phillips, Tulip Court

Friday September 15, 2017


Summer Wrap Up!

Hello All!
I hope everyone had a great summer and the kids are getting ready to head back to school!

This past month, and whole summer, has been really busy for the Tulips!

Our most recent event was a Junior Literary Legend Gala that was held at the Albany Public Library. It was a great event where the young people in the area were invited to come to the library read books, dance to the latest disney hits with their families, eat some food that was donated by local organizations and take fun and creative pictures at the photobooth. The Tulip Court really appreciated the invitation to attend the event and spend time with the community.

The Tulip Court is not only looking forward to our literacy project, but we are also looking forward to a couple upcoming events!


We will be attending the final Movie Under The Stars presented by Christ’s Church of Albany will take place on September 15th, fun starts at 7:30pm and the movie starts at 8:30pm! On the 15th, Life of Pets will be playing! This is a great experience to have with your family, we will be there painting faces! Come out, enjoy free drinks, snow cones, popcorn, and a movie! Remember to bring lots of blankets with the chilly weather coming in for the Fall! We love attending events such as these! If you would like to see the Tulips at one of your upcoming events you can request us by going to the home page and selecting Request the Queen and Court!

An important part about being apart of the Tulip Court is being involved with your community. Not only do I see the community through our different events, I have had the opportunity to get involved with my community through the Boys and Girls Club of Albany! I have been volunteering there for the past 4 years! I love being able to be a mentor at their after school program! Not only do I love working on math and english with the kids, I get the chance to work with them and teach them about how to get involved with their community through our community service group! We get to do things from visiting other non-profits, to picking up garbage on the streets to help keep our community clean! I love working with these young people and getting to promote and share my love of service with them!

If you ever get a chance to get involved with you community I think you should take advantage of it! Whether that is through a club at school or getting a group together to pick up some litter! Every little bit helps! The Albany community is huge and full of endless possibilities to get involved!

I hope to see you at our upcoming events!


Kelly Phillips

Posted by: Julianna Rauf, Tulip Court

Tuesday August 22, 2017


Happy August Albany

My name is Julianna Rauf, one of five women on the 2017 Albany Tulip Court. As many of you know, July was our third month of reign and it couldn’t have been any more successful, both in terms of fun and planning. I’m thrilled to inform you on what we as a Court have been busy with during the past month of July and am even more excited to draw your attention to the beginnings of our Literacy Program.


In the month of July alone the 2017 Tulip Court has attended ten public events where we have face painted, directed kid’s crafts, walked the runway, and more! These events include two Summer Night Movie Series hosted by Christ’s Church of Albany, the 4th of July and Kid’s Day at the Empire State Plaza, Roller Derby Kids Craft Night, the Macy’s Fashion Show, the Community BBQ at the Elks Lodge, and all three of the Alive at Five’s! We have enjoyed every minute of serving the Albany community—getting to know the public while meeting bright children and influential individuals. On top of that, we are definitely able to say that we are now professional face painters!



Not only have we had success serving the public, we have also succeeded in planning the beginning stages of our Literacy Program! Although things are not yet set in stone, we have a bright future ahead of us in terms of positively impacting Albany’s youth through literacy. When brainstorming a program idea, we came to the conclusion that we simply want to do everything we can to enhance literacy in the Albany area. This being said, our goal is to enhance children’s oral, written, and reading skills through public speaking, writing, and presenting their work while examining that of others’. We plan on reaching out to at least four diverse nonprofit organizations where we will work with their members over a period of nearly two months.


What exactly will we do? Our focus will be on each individual, having them assess themselves and think of their personal goals. In other words, our Literacy Program is going to focus on setting Albany’s youth up for success. They will ultimately reflect on their past, embrace the present, and prepare for the future through writing about their personal experiences. We won’t only have them write and present about the past, present, and future, we will also have their short stories posted on a website and possibly published in a journal for the world to see the significance of their voices. The 2017 Albany Tulip Court truly believes that everybody has an important voice no matter their gender, race, age, ethnicity, or religion and our aim is to let those voices be heard.




We look forward to attending more of Albany’s wonderful public events and cannot wait to see our Literacy Program begin to take form after a few logistics are sorted out. Please be sure to stay in touch by reaching out to us with any volunteer opportunities through submitting a request and by following our monthly blog posts, Facebook page, and Instagram.




With gratitude and appreciation,


Julianna Rauf



Posted by: Erin Bryk, Tulip Court

Monday July 10, 2017


Happy 4th!

We hope you had a fun, relaxing Fourth of July!   


My name is Erin and I am one of the 2017 Tulip Court Members. I’m excited to write this month’s blog post on behalf of the Court and talk a bit about what we’ve been up to. Since May, the Court has volunteered at over 16 events throughout the Capital District—ranging from face-painting at outdoor film screenings to handing out medals at the Freihofer’s Run for Women (and cheering on Ashley, who ran in the 5K!). We’ve had the opportunity to interact and connect with many different people in the community. One of my favorite questions we get is, “So, you’re all the Albany Tulip Queens!?” To which, I like to respond in jest, “No—Ashley’s the Queen. But, the rest of us are princesses!” Needless to say, it’s been a lot of fun getting out & about in Albany and meeting people.


Over many cups of coffee, we’ve been busy planning our Literacy Program. Each member of the Court came to the table with many amazing ideas and goals. The planning process has been a great leadership experience for all of us on the Court, as we’ve had to whittle down the ideas, focus our impact, and think creatively about youth engagement. The Literacy Program is one aspect of the Tulip Court experience that we’re all very excited about. We’re planning to present our campaign in next month’s post and roll it out in the fall, so stay tuned!


Catch us next at the Empire State Plaza on Saturday, July 15th, where we’ll be volunteering for the first-ever Kid’s Day! We’ll have arts & crafts for the kids, as well as information about signing up for library cards at the Albany Public Library. And as Ashley mentioned last month, please reach out to us with any volunteer opportunities by submitting a request! And beyond our monthly blog posts, you can stay up-to-date on our year by liking our Facebook page and our following our Instagram.



Take care,


Posted by: Ashley Loggins, Tulip Queen

Thursday June 1, 2017


Hello Albany!


Hello Albany!

My name is Ashley Loggins, and I am ecstatic to write my first blog post as the 2017 Albany Tulip Queen. Growing up in Albany, I have seen several classmates, church members, and teammates earn the opportunity of serving on the Tulip Court, and I am honored to have been given this experience alongside four wonderful women. I was completely shocked when I heard my name called! My court members are the epitome of service, and the selection committee did a wonderful job choosing each individual to work together to represent our city.

Erin, Kelly, Julianna, Amanda, and I will spend the next year attending many city events, as well as implementing our literacy program throughout Albany County. It has only been two weeks since our Coronation Ceremony, but we have already been able to accomplish so much! In our first few days, we participated in the annual Mother of the Year Ceremony at Tulip Festival, and volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club at their Kid Zone tent. We read to first grade students at Eagle Point Elementary School, and ran a literacy themed obstacle course at their school Literacy Night.

The next day, the queen and court attended a Tulip Tea at the Teresian House Center of the Elderly. We met so many wonderful people and enjoyed the residents sharing their wisdom and experiences. Our next event was the St. Sophia 2017 Greek Festival, where we participated in the opening ribbon cutting ceremony, authentic Greek foods, and a traditional Greek dance. We were so lucky to have Maria Mokhiber-Ziamandanis as our host for the Greek Festival, who was the 1988 Albany Tulip Queen! That same night, we traveled over to Chancellor Hall, where we enjoyed the choral music of the Mendelssohn Club of Albany. The group performs traditionally every year at our Tulip Queen Coronation. The next week, we served free ice cream at the New Covenant Presbyterian Farmer’s Market, where we spoke with many of the same students that we met at Eagle Point Elementary the week prior. It is amazing to see some of the same children time after time, and have them remember the Tulip Queen & Court coming to their classroom. The court and I also participated in the 2017 Albany Memorial Day Parade, where we were accompanied by a lot of rain, but also many people supporting those who lost their lives for our country.

I truly am looking forward to what the next year has to offer myself and the court, and for what we have to offer others. We have every opportunity and resource at our fingertips to make an immense impact on the city of Albany. We would also love to communicate with community members to get involved in as many service initiatives as possible. If you would like to request our involvement in an event, please reach out to us! We can’t wait to hear from you all. Come say hello at any of our upcoming events, and stay updated on our year through our Facebook and Instagram pages: @AlbanyTulipCourt

And always remember, “Think Globally, Act Locally”. The smallest act of kindness can have the biggest impact on somebody’s life.

Until next time,



Posted by: Adaviah Ward, 2016 Tulip Queen

Thursday January 5, 2017


Tulip Update!

Hey, you! Yeah, you! Come in closer, the Tulips would like to chat with you!

We hope that each of you have enjoyed your holidays with family and friends sharing lots of love and laughs, all while making new memories! The Tulips have embarked upon some great opportunities since our coronation ceremony in May. We have also been invited to some of the coolest events in the area. We've been to many different festivals, such as: Dad Fest, Greek Fest, Polish Fest, African- American Family Day, and so many more. At these events we've been able to meet amazing young people from all over the area. We have enjoyed every moment of it! In July we had the opportunity to visit the Capital Rep Theater and speak to young actors and actresses who are working towards fulfilling their dreams in life. Along with all of the many events that we have been invited to, we have also been working on our literacy program. This year’s literacy program will be a world travel experience. Dust off your passports and get ready to explore with "Traveling with the Tulips".

Posted by: Jacqueline Murphy, 2015 Tulip Court

Monday April 18, 2016


Happy Spring, Albany!

We are fairly certain the weather will be excellent for this year’s Tulip Festival! It is hard to believe our reign is coming to an end! It seems like yesterday we were shopping for our coronation dresses, ball gowns, and suits. This year has flown by faster than I imagined it would! We are wrapping up our year by trying to get as much accomplished as possible before May. Before we depart, we still have several events we want to tell you about!

This past month we kept busy with our last event at The Empire State Plaza, the Kidz Expo. We thought the Kidz Expo would be the perfect place to get kids involved with one of our literacy programs, The Great Tulip Detectives. We encouraged kids to draw a picture of their favorite mystery character so they could then go home and write a story about them. We had a ton of kids come over to our table to create some wonderful, mysterious, scary, and powerful characters. We then sent them home with their character glued to a popsicle stick to make it easier for showing their families and friends.

We then took part in the Mystery Readers program at All Saints Academy and let me tell you, that was one heck of a time! The kids got a kick out of us being there. We spent some time talking about what we had been up to since we started our reign back in May and read several books. We read some classics such as “The Giving Tree” and “The Missing Piece”, both by Shel Silverstein, and finally we read “Horton Hears a Who!” by none other than Dr. Seuss. These children love the Mystery Readers program and we are so happy we got to enjoy it with them.

It just so happens that we were lucky enough to be in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I am not sure if we could have had more fun! It was a surreal feeling to be in a parade that you always watched when you were a child. We were able to ride down the street and wave to all the onlookers. It is definitely something I will never forget!

As our time approaches to pass the torch we are honored to have been a part of something so special. We accomplished a lot in these past months and we are anxiously awaiting this year’s Tulip Festival!!

Posted by: Sarah Wilamowski, 2015 Tulip Court

Wednesday February 17, 2016


February Updates!

Hello People of Albany! It's Sarah again!

I'm here to update you on all of the things we have been able to accomplish for the month of February! We have been keeping super busy at the Arbor Hill Community Center working on our R.E.A.D literacy program. The kids at Arbor Hill Community Center ranged anywhere from first to fifth grade, and boy did they take interest in our program! Kids set their monthly R.E.A.D. goals anywhere from 5-8 books.  We even had one student pledge reading 20 different books! All the kids jumped into reading and expressed their favorite parts of their books through activities we had them do. We played different games that related to their books and Morgan even helped them act out their favorite scenes! Saying goodbye to them was hard to do, since we all made a connection with them, but we can't wait to see what this next group of kids can accomplish!

Mark your calendars because we will be at the Kids Expo at the Empire State Plaza on March 5th and then at the Saint Patrick's Day Parade on March 12th! Can you believe it that February is almost over? Before long it will be May and Tulip Festival! Nominations for the next Albany Tulip Queen are open, so if you know a candidate who is hard working, super involved with the community and loves literacy as much as we do, nominate them for the 2016-2017 Tulip Queen! Applications are accepted right here,! Stay updated on all things tulip by checking out our Twitter and Instagram: @albanytulips2015!


Posted by: Morgan Heyward, 2015 Tulip Court

Monday January 25, 2016


After-School Time is a Swell Time to Read the Night Away

Hello Albany,

Happy New Year! As the kids head back to school, Christmas decorations are put away and Jack Frost comes out to play, the Albany Tulips are staying warm by keeping busy with two exciting reading programs. The start of 2016 was bittersweet as we left our beloved class at Albany Academy and ended the Tulip Mystery program. While we had an amazing four weeks working with the boys on their mysterious tales, it was hard to say goodbye. Not only was the group fun and exciting, but their writing was truly imaginative and thrilling. I was inspired by many of their stories.

Nonetheless, we must move on to our next adventure at the Arbor Hill Community Center. We were ready to dive in and introduce R.E.A.D. as our first after-school program. Immediately everyone was setting great goals, ranging anywhere from 1 to 101 books. Coming in on our second week, many students had already surpassed their goal. Excited to share what they've read, we worked as a group to act out and draw some of their favorite scenes. I can't wait to see the finished product. Going on our third week there, we are very pleased to be greeted by enthusiastic smiling students every time we visit.

Believe it or not, spring is right around the corner! April showers bring May flowers and for Albany that flower is the tulip! That's right folks, Tulip Festival is right around the corner. As sad as we will be to leave, it will be an honor to welcome a new group of girls into the Tulip family as the 2016-2017 Albany Tulip Queen and court. Are you driven, hard working, involved and outgoing? Do you know someone who embodies these traits? Well, nominations are now being accepted right here on Will you be the next Albany Tulip Queen?

Remember to check back here monthly and keep up with us on Twitter and Instagram @albanytulips2015 to find out what we will be doing next.


Posted by: Eva Petkanas, 2015 Tulip Court

Wednesday January 13, 2016


Winter Update

Fellow Albany residents, 

I’m happy to report that the Tulip Queen and Court have had a great month since our last update. Not only have we been to two schools to test out our literacy programs, but we’ve also attended several holiday events in the City of Albany.

In Latham, we ran through our READ (Reading Encourages Adolescent Discovery) program. Students set personal goals for how many books they would be able to finish reading over four weeks. Students got excited about reading and shared their favorite stories with each other.  The Tulips delivered tickets to local athletic events to the class at the end of the month for reaching their reading goals. At Albany Academy, the Tulips have been working with a class of fourth graders to test out second literacy program, The Great Tulip Detectives. The students have worked hard to write captivating mysteries and learned about the structure of a mystery story. 

As we look forward to bringing both programs to Albany students in 2016, we have wrapped up the year with lots of fun events. We served a meal to seniors for Thanksgiving, who shared stories about Albany’s history. We enjoyed the holiday season and attended two tree lighting ceremonies. We helped Mayor Sheehan light the City of Albany tree, and helped kids make arts and crafts at the New York State tree lighting festival. 

Our last event for 2015 was Albany’s Last Run. We spent the day helping runners get ready for one last 5K through beautiful Washington Park, where our reign as Tulip Court began in May. As the sun set and runners took their places, fireworks lit up the sky between City Hall and the Capitol building. We hope you all enjoyed the holidays, and we look forward to continuing our service in 2016!


Posted by: Alexandra Cronin, 2015 Tulip Queen

Thursday November 19, 2015


Literacy Program Update

To my dearest Albanians,

I hope you were able to enjoy the last of the sunny and warm weather.  As I sit here today the weather is starting to shift toward the winter and although I am a really big fan of the fall, I embrace the colder weather because it means that the Tulips and I have so many fun activities planned.  We completed our last outdoors event, summer movie night at ‘Movie Under the Stars’ at the end of September.  We had a blast at that event painting faces and watching Cinderella.  We also were able to participate in Eagle Point Elementary School’s ‘Literacy Night’.  There we were able to teach children about their local Albany Public Library.  We were able to read them some fall stories and some Halloween ones as well!  We participated in the Festival of Nations where we helped crown Miss Festival of Nations.  I had the pleasure of meeting all of the contestants and what outstanding girls they were!  It is so important to embrace where we come from and to learn about what makes our country a rich and cultural melting pot.  These girls are certainly wise beyond their years and are definitely going to do great things!  We are very excited for all of the events coming up in the winter!

Now that I have given you all an update, I want to get to the exciting news.  The Tulips and I want to announce our LITERACY PROGRAM.  We have been working so diligently to create such a wonderful year full of literacy.  We had so many ideas that we decided to do… wait for it… TWO literacy programs! I can’t wait to tell you all about both of them.  One of our programs is called R.E.A.D, which stands for ‘Reading Encourages Adolescent Discovery’.  This is an incentive program where we will be going to local schools and promoting literacy by allowing students to choose reading goals and if they meet or hopefully exceed, we will be giving them sporting tickets to local games around the Capital Region.  We want to get students excited about reading but to also connect them to the Capital Region.  What better way than rewarding hard work with going to watch a fun game!  Our other program is called ‘The Great Tulip Detectives’.  This program will be a little more hands-on and crafty!  The Tulips and I have written our own mystery novel and we will be going to different local schools to share our story, and to have students write their own!  We will also have them make Popsicle stick characters to go along with their story.  This program is going to be super fun and creative and we can’t wait to see what the students have up their sleeves! Everyone loves a good mystery. 

We are so excited to get started with our literacy programs - not only to have some fun, but also to emphasize how important literacy is!  Reading and writing are fundamental in a student’s career and we want them to not only learn but to love these academic aspects.  We will be sure to update you with how our literacy programs are going and all of the cool mystery stories that students come up with!

As always, stay tuned, we have so much more to come!


Posted by: Jacqueline Murphy, 2015 Tulip Court

Friday October 23, 2015


Fall Updates

As fall comes into full swing we have been keeping busy with several wonderful events in Albany. We were so pleased to see so many people out embracing the events the City of Albany puts on throughout the year. At the Jazz Festival, we were in charge of the coloring station where we colored all day with people of all ages. It was so awesome to see people stopping by to hang out, talk, and color with us. Larry Moses’ Latin Jazz Express kicked off the Festival and we knew we were in for a great day of live music. With one great act after another we worked our way to Kate Davis who blew us all away! What a talented young woman she is! Booker T. Jones went out with a bang, what a lively group of people he has in his band! He is someone who will keep your attention while you are in his presence. What a great turnout for Jazz Festival 2015.

Simultaneously the Hispanic Heritage Festival was happening at the Empire State Plaza. While at the Hispanic Heritage Festival we were able to enjoy some authentic Hispanic cuisine with some of the best people around! Face painting is become our forte! We were in charge of the face painting station where we were able to put smiles on everyone’s faces - literally and figuratively!

We closed out our weekend at the Teal Ribbon Run of Albany. While there we helped to register and direct the runners and walkers. We helped to cheer on all the participants and were even able to snap a quick picture with the first female runner to finish. It was an incredible atmosphere as everyone in attendance was there for a loved one or a friend. There were so many emotions going on in Washington Park and we are so happy we were able to be there to support those who are battling, have battled, or know someone battling ovarian cancer. Your support means so much to so many. Thank you to all the volunteers who help to make sure events like the Teal Ribbon Run go off without a hitch.

Our next events are coming up this weekend with the Cash for Coats Drive at the Albany Devils game at 5pm on Saturday, October 24, and we will also be at the Festival of Nations event going on at the Empire State Plaza on Sunday, the 25th!  AND we will be kicking off our literacy program this month- so stay tuned, Albany!






Posted by: Morgan Heyward, 2015 Tulip Court

Monday September 7, 2015


School Bells are Ringing

Well Albany, that time of year has come again. That's right, we're entering the back to school season. Personally, I've always loved everything about going back to school - from getting organized with new school supplies to picking out the perfect outfit for the first day of school – but the truth is, my favorite part has always been picking out my favorite books to read during the school year. I've always really enjoyed poetry and non-fiction books but I'll read anything from mystery to sci-fi. Needless to say, I am super excited about putting together our literacy program for this school year. I don't want to give away too much but I will say that the Tulips and I have a lot of big surprises in store; some may even involve some of our local sports teams. Stay tuned for more info!

Although I can't wait for school to start, I am certainly not wishing our summer away. After all, we've been so busy I wouldn't want to miss anything. Along with weekly Alive at Five concerts, we've had the honor of representing the City of Albany at several exciting events. We kicked off the month of August with my favorite event of the year, the African American Heritage Festival at the Empire State Plaza. I can remember going to the festival every year with my family and later with my friends. I believe that the festival is a great way to bring the community together and really celebrate the melting pot that Albany has become. This year, the Tulips and I were lucky enough to be working with WMHT at the festival.  I was amazed by how many children really loved getting involved and sharing what they've made with their parents. I felt as though we had a special role in making the festival come alive.

As the long summer months slowly come to an end, look for us around Albany getting ready for school and celebrating with friends and family. Be sure to come get your face painted at Jazz Fest on September 12th, and then follow us up to the Hispanic Heritage Festival for some great music and authentic Hispanic cuisine at the Empire State Plaza. Our weekend will continue at the Teal Ribbon Run on September 13th, and we hope to see you there. Enjoy the rest of your summer and have a great first week at school!

Best of Luck, Morgan

Posted by: Sarah Wilamowski, 2015 Tulip Court

Monday July 27, 2015


Hello City of Albany!

            I hope everyone had a wonderful June and you are having a great summer! My name is Sarah Wilamowski and I am one of the Tulip Court members! I am so excited to be sitting on the Albany Tulip Court with these four other wonderful and talented girls. We each have been working hard to perfect our upcoming literacy program. With all of our different skills and interests, it’s bound to be an awesome program.

We sure have been able to accomplish a lot in our reign so far. We have had the privilege of attending multiple City of Albany events while doing other fun things! One of my favorite events so far has to have been Dad Fest on Father’s Day! The five of us spent the day at Jennings Landing listening to great music and playing mini golf with so many families. It was really wonderful to see all the kids with their fathers! The day turned out to be beautiful and the temperature was just right for a day outside. Another activity that we were able to go to was playing Bingo at the Kenwood Manor in Slingerlands. The ladies and gentlemen that live there were so welcoming and loved having us there. One lady even won bingo three times! It was such a wonderful and rewarding experience.

If you are ever wondering where the Tulip Court will appear next, you can almost guarantee that we will be at Alive at Five at Jennings Landing. Each of the shows showcases different types of music that are all fantastic! If you haven’t seen one yet, it is definitely something you want to do before summer ends. Other events we will be at coming up include Black Arts and Cultural Festival August 1st at the Empire State Plaza, Jazz Fest on September 12, and the Teal Ribbon Run on September 13! Follow us on twitter @AlbanyTulips to keep updated and make sure you come and hang out with your 2015 Albany Tulip Court!




Posted by: Alexandra Cronin, 2015 Tulip Queen

Tuesday June 30, 2015


The Beginning to a very Exciting Year

Hello All!

        For the great members of the City of Albany that I haven't met yet, my name is Alexandra Cronin.  I am beyond excited to be this year’s Albany Tulip Queen.  I am going to work hard this year and do my best to make a positive difference! Let me start by telling you a little bit about myself.  I was born in Albany and raised in Bethlehem.  I love being an Albany community member and have a lot of pride for this city that started at a very young age.  I feel that Albany has so much to offer, and it has been an amazing home to me for the past 23 years.  I did go away for college at SUNY Brockport but returned with excitement after completing a dual degree in Dance and Exercise Physiology.  I love science and want to continue my education by completing a master's degree in Physicians Assistance, hopefully at Albany Medical College.  I have always been one to lend a helping hand and I feel that the medical field is perfect for me to make a difference and help as many people as possible.  I am currently taking classes at SUNY Albany in hopes to apply to Physician Assistant School next year.  This year though, I am excited and ready to devote my time as the Albany Tulip Queen.

        I would like to introduce my fellow court members who I feel so lucky to work with for the next year: Morgan Heyward, Jacqueline Murphy, Eva Petkanas, and Sarah Wilamowski.  These four ladies have already proved to be dedicated and hardworking individuals and I know they are going to work extremely hard this year.  We feel honored and excited to represent the City of Albany and we look forward to being positive role models for the community.  We are especially excited to work with Mayor Sheehan on her literacy program, and we are going to come up with some great original ideas on how to enhance and implement it in Albany schools.  We want to show Albany gratitude for all it has done for us and want to give back as much as we can in the next 12 months. 

        The court and I would like to recognize and admire the hard work that came from the court before us.  The 2014 Tulip Queen Caitlin Whelan and her Court members, Jillian Callahan, TaraMarie Crisafulli, Kasmira Wilkins, and Meghan Yi worked extremely hard and made such a difference in so many positive ways.  These women were all perfect role models and ambassadors for the City of Albany.  We would like to continue their excellent work and make them proud!  From transitioning as the new Queen and Court, we have already gotten a massive amount of support and encouragement.  We would like to thank Mayor Sheehan, Festival Chairman Marcus Pryor, and the 2015 selection committee. Without you, this program would not be possible.

    The Court and I feel very strongly about being positive female role models in the community and are ready to work hard to continue the Tulip Queen and Court legacy.  Morgan, Jacqueline, Eva, Sarah, and I all have different positive attributes that as a team make us strong and well-rounded.  We are beyond excited to bring positivity to the classroom to get students reading as much as possible! From the few reading events we have had already, we can see the joy that the students get and know that will only continue.  We want to inspire and we fully intend to do so this year!

    From the coronation we quickly got started with our Tulip Queen and Court year.  We had many events during our first week of reign.  On Mother’s Day, I had the pleasure of crowing the Mother of the Year.  All five of the mothers who were nominated proved to be amazing mothers with huge hearts.  After that, we spent the day in the KidZone making Mother’s Day cards.  It was so nice to see kids excited to make something special for their moms. Our first event after the Tulip Festival weekend was the annual Teresian House fashion show.  The Court and I had the pleasure of participating by escorting the women down the runway.  This was a great first official event; sharing in the pleasure that these residents received from this event was a heartwarming experience. Later that week we had the pleasure of attending the Grecian Festival at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Church.  I had the honor of cutting the red ribbon and declaring the Grecian Festival open.  While we were there, we were given a tour of the church.  It was beautiful and full of rich history.  After the tour, we were whisked away to the dining area and had the opportunity to try many traditional Greek delicacies.  All of the food was amazing and the Tulips definitely did not leave hungry! During dinner, we were called to the dance floor and participated in a traditional Greek dance with the students of the Church.  It was so much fun and we had the steps down by the end!  That same evening we attended the Mendelssohn Club Spring Concert.  The theme of their concert this year was American Military History.  The gentlemen were all so talented and the music was great.  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves that evening from learning about Greek culture to enjoying the music of the Mendelssohn Club.  Since then, we have been able to do a few reading events at school and are in the early stages of planning our literacy program.  We are excited to get our program under way so we can reach out to as many students as possible.  As far as events coming up, the Court and I will be at the Alive at Five concert series and the annual 4th of July festivities at the Empire State Plaza.  Be sure to stop by and see us and learn what we have in store for the year.  Stay tuned Albany; we have some great things coming your way!


Sincerely yours,


Posted by: Caitlin Whelan, 2014 Tulip Queen

Tuesday May 19, 2015


In Full Bloom-The Conclusion to Our Year as the 2014 Albany Tulip Court


As I sit a week after coronation to write my final blog post, I can't seem to stop the tears that come to my eyes, nor the smile that spreads across my face. I have taken the past seven days to process that our reign is over, and to reflect on the memories I was so fortunate to share with Tara, Kassie, Meghan and Jillian. I vividly recall Kate Bender and her Court telling us how quickly a year can go by, yet I still struggle to understand how our year passed us by in a blink of an eye. The final week flew by the fastest of all, as we concluded Imagination Ink, and welcomed Alexandra, Morgan, Sarah, Jacqueline and Eva to the Tulip Family. 

Our final week of reign began two Saturdays ago, when we experienced being on the flipside of the Tulip Tea. We met twelve impressive young women, all of whom selflessly give so much to the Albany community. We were able to introduce ourselves as well, and share our experiences. I noticed as we each talked about our literacy program, our favorite events, and our love for each other, that a few Tulip Family members were tearing up in the back row. Though it was sad, it was nice to know how much we would be missed, and that we had made such special friendships with our mentors.  It was during the Tulip Tea I also realized how difficult it must be to be a Selection Committee member; each young woman was a queen in her own right! As I had a year before, I left feeling confident in the fact that the Albany community has many female role models to look up to, and that regardless of who would be the Queen or Court members, each young woman in attendance would continue to create a brighter Albany through their endeavors. 

The following Wednesday, we met the five finalists in Washington Park for the annual Tulip Festival Press conference. After chatting with the new girls, collecting audio for our end of the year Powerpoint, and taking pictures with our photographer, the press conference began. The Mayor and Tulip Festival Chairman Marcus Pryor said a few words before inviting me to give a quick speech about our year. I had to fight back the tears as I turned to tell my girls how much I will cherish the memories we created together, and that I was proud to be a part of our team. Then each of the finalists spoke about the upcoming Tulip Festival, just as we did a year before. I remember wishing time could slow down as Jackie read the very paragraph I had read when I was a finalist. After the press conference ended, I left in disbelief that this single event, and our whole year, went by so fast. 

Thursday, we had our Family Day for Myers Middle School and All Saints Academy at City Hall. Our super writers' stories, paired with artwork from Albany High students, Nyah, and other local community members and friends, turned out to be some of the best work yet! We were so grateful, especially to our family members and friends who helped us finish a number of the comics. It was touching to see how many people believed in us, our students, and our literacy program, as they made time in their very busy schedules to help us with this venture. We are very blessed to have such kind, supportive people in our lives! The students absolutely loved their comics, and couldn't believe this was something they had made themselves. Our mission was complete; not only did we help children find a love for writing, but molded heroes who will go on to bring positive change in their community. Though we were sad “Imagination Ink: Calling All Super Writers” was wrapping up, we felt an immense sense of accomplishment. We poured our passions into this program, making the most of the opportunity we had been given. We created a literacy program that embodied everything we believed in, and we are blessed to have received so much support for our mission from the Albany community. This truly was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I will miss the children we worked with dearly. 

Friday, we had the Street Scrubbing and Tulip Luncheon. As the 2015 and 2014 Tulips walked down the street behind the Dutch Settlers Society and Cub Scouts, I again reflected on how fast time flew by. I promised myself then to make the most of every second left of our reign, and of the rest of my life. After introducing each of the 2015 finalists, Marcus said a few words about me that held significant meaning for me. I had never realized that he was proud of me, and his words meant so much. After I gave a brief reflection on our year, I was excited to officially announce the commencement of the street scrubbing. Joined by our friends and families, we then walked to where the Luncheon was to be held. Playing on the projector screen inside was the beautiful video that Meghan had created, which had pictures, video and dialogue that allowed us to reminisce on our year together (check it out here! Once everyone was seated, the 2014 and 2015 Tulips were introduced one by one. As the ceremony went on, each of my Court members were asked to come on stage to receive their scholarships. I had to try so hard to hold back the tears as Jillian, Kassie, Tara and Meghan each reflected on what was so special about their year, and how much they love their tulip sisters. When my name was finally called, I looked to Tara (who always has a way of keeping me grounded), took a deep breath and walked up stage. I was glad to have a moment during my speech to pause to present Nyah with a special award on behalf of the 2014 Tulip Court for her service to Mayor Sheehan's literacy campaign. Nyah played such an integral role in the creation of our literacy program, and positively impacted many of this city's youth. As my best friend came on stage to receive an award she was not aware she was getting prior, I had a few seconds to take deep breaths, and then was comforted by her big hug. I was able to return to my speech without the nerves I had been feeling beforehand, and told the audience about our literacy program, about our experiences, and about the four amazing young women I had the privilege to work with. After receiving my scholarship, I returned to a table of teary eyed Tulips, where I was finally able to let a tear or two out myself. 

Saturday was the big day! My girls and I arrived at the Hilton early morning with breakfast and words of wisdom for the new Queen and Court to be. After laughs, donuts and "real talk," my girls left for Washington Park while I remained with Tulip Court Co-Chairs Amy and Nicole and the new Tulips as they got ready for the Coronation Ceremony. When the girls were ready, we went down to the parking lot, where drivers with convertible cars and police officers waited to escort us to Washington Park. Driving in the convertible on the way to Washington Park, it really began to hit me that this incredible experience was coming to an end. I remembered that just a year ago, I had been in the back seat, anxiously awaiting the ceremony. Trying to revel in every last second, I sat back, breathed in the spring air and enjoyed the thrill of it all.  When we arrived at Washington Park, I was given a crown of tulips to wear, and sat in a horse-drawn carriage with Mayor Sheehan. Shortly after, the bagpipes began to play, and the procession to the Washington Park Lakehouse began. Mayor Sheehan and I were brought on stage, followed by each finalist. I was so excited when I looked into the crowd and immediately found Meghan, Kassie, Jillian and Tara waving and cheering. Their presence made this moment all the more special. Marcus, Mayor Sheehan and I each gave a speech before the big announcement. And the winner was.......Alexandra Cronin! She was nearly in tears as I placed the crown on her head, and she spoke beautifully to the crowd after. I know Alexandra will make an excellent Tulip Queen, and together with her Court members, the girls will make an amazing team. After pictures and hugs, the girls were whisked away to get their hair and makeup done for the Tulip Ball, while I began my first day as a "normal person." I changed into casual clothes, and enjoyed the Tulip Festival with my friends and family for the afternoon. I even got to see our tulip bed that we planted in the fall! I spent most of the afternoon in the park before going to the Tulip Ball with my Gamie. She has been my biggest supporter throughout this whole experience, and I had so much fun with her, Jillian and her family, Tara, Amy, Nicole, and the new Tulips at the Ball. It was certainly a night to remember!

Having a week to process and think about this year, I have reminisced greatly on our experiences and accomplishments together as a team. 
Through our literacy program, the five of us had the opportunity of a lifetime to be the change we wished to see in our community. We have also been humbled by and are ever gracious to the Albany community for allowing us to work with our city's bright students to the capacity that we have. Our literacy program was founded on the beliefs that reading and writing can serve as tools to encourage creative community engagement, and that teaching heroism in the classroom can inspire students to be heroes and leaders in their current and future communities. These were ideals and beliefs each of us held strongly, and we are blessed to have had the opportunity to put these beliefs to action. Though it was sad to say goodbye, I am excited to have passed on this Albany tradition with the knowledge that our student super writers will continue on to be super leaders in our community. It is with confidence that I say that our yearlong mission was more than just completed - our mission was successful. This mission would not have been accomplished, however, had I not been given the privilege to work with four other talented, passionate, and caring young women, each of whom contributed unique skills, ideas and personalities that allowed for the formation of such a dynamic team. Thank you, Kassie, Tara, Meghan and Jillian, for a year of memories that I will always treasure. You four poured your hearts and passions into everything you did, and worked tirelessly to better our community. I am so blessed to have found four lifelong friends, and I look forward to our friendship continuously growing. I would also like to thank Marcus, Amy, Nicole, Ryan and Melli for your unending support throughout this year. The five of you believed in us even before we believed in ourselves; you helped us see that any dream can be made possible, and continually pushed us to challenge ourselves. We have grown immensely this year under your guidance, and we cannot thank you enough for presenting us with the many learning opportunities we matured from. I would also like to take a moment to thank my Mother, Father and Gamie; the three of you have always been my biggest supporters. I would not be who I am today, had I not been so blessed to have you in my life. You three will always be my super heroes, and I hope that I have made you proud this year.


I couldn't be more excited to welcome the 2015 Tulip Queen and Court. These young women are now a part of one of Albany's most beloved traditions, and it is my wish that they cherish the memories to come as much as we cherish ours. I would like to take a moment to give the five of you some words of advice for this upcoming journey. First, you can do anything; use the people and the resources around you to make the most of your year. Second, trust each other and in yourselves; work together and count on your fellow tulips for love and support. Remember each of you was chosen for a reason and that with your combined strengths, anything is possible. Third, don’t blink. Everyone will tell you that this year goes by quickly and you won’t believe them until you’re passing this incredible honor down to the next five young women. Cherish every instant, even the stressful days, as they will give you a greater appreciation for the happy and beautiful moments. Fourth, be the change you wish to see. Throw your passions and hearts into everything you do, as it will bring you and the people you work with much joy and success. Perhaps the greatest lesson I learned this year is that when a story is told, it will not be forgotten. It becomes something else; a memory of who we were, and the hope of what we can become. It is my hope that the five of you find happiness in telling and living your very own stories. 

In closing, Tulip will forever be a special experience and tradition I was so blessed to be a part of. I grew with my girls not only as a servant leader, but as a person. The Tulip Queen program has changed my life; I have grown a thicker skin, I have overcome seemly impossible obstacles and I have learned how to lead a team of individuals with diverse ideas and backgrounds. With my Court members, I have discovered my passion for service, and have fallen in love with the City of Albany. I have created friendships and memories that I will hold dearly for the rest of my life. This past week, many have joked saying that we are now "has beens" or have "wilted". I like to think just the opposite; Tara, Meghan, Jillian, Kassie and I are in full bloom now, and the time has come to pass this remarkable Albany tradition onto five new tulip buds. Their journey has just begun, and in a way so has ours. As we conclude this chapter of our lives, we will continue forward into a new chapter, hopefully making proud the city that has given us so very much. 

Tulip Love Always,



Posted by: Caitlin Whelan, 2014 Tulip Queen

Thursday March 5, 2015


Literacy Program Update!

These past two months have flown by in a blink of an eye! We have spent this time at Latham Ridge Elementary, as we were so fortunate to have the opportunity to bring our literacy program to 15 of the school's 5th and 6th graders.

Upon us entering the classroom for our very first meeting, the children's faces lit up with excitement! Immediately, they wanted to show us all of the hard work they have put into their school work and to tell us all about themselves. As more students entered the room, we gathered in a circle so that we could all introduce ourselves. We played a fun game where we each shared our name, and then described ourselves using an adjective that began with the same letter as our name. The children had such a fun time trying to come up with the most creative and wacky adjectives they could think of! At the end of the activity, one little girl raised her hand, and bravely asked, "so, what is a Tulip Queen?" The children listened intently as I told them all about the Tulip Program. They especially loved when I told them about Coronation (particularly the part where we were escorted on the back of convertibles by police officers!).

We then broke up into two groups to read "Super Tulips Reach Out", our very own graphic novel featuring us Tulips! The students took turns reading the story out loud, all of them completely captivated by the storyline and the artwork. As I mentioned in a previous post, the story centered on Lucas, a 5th grader who is being pressured to bully so as to deter his bully from bothering him. After realizing that they must find a way to show Lucas that he can be a hero too, even without the use of flashy super powers, the Tulips team up with guidance counselor Ms. Bonilla (a hero of their own) to find a creative way to reach out to Lucas. The story ends on a moral choice, and after finishing reading the story, the students were able to create their very own ending. As our first session came to a close, the students were sad to go home, and couldn't wait until we returned the next day! They were especially excited when we told them they could keep the comics we brought!

The next day, we played another fun game before the students began to analyze our comic book. The children each received a folder with worksheets; the first worksheet had the students write the plot, setting, themes, characters, and major points of "Super Tulips Reach Out." This helped them practice identifying key literary components that they would soon have to use for their own stories. After, we talked about what it means to them to be a hero, and who some of the heroes in their community are. They all smiled wide when we told them that they too could be superheroes. In fact, they could even be heroes through writing! With the mission to create stories that taught valuable lessons in mind, the students named a number of topics highly relevant to them. The students then voted on three of their favorite topics from the list they gave us, and I counted the votes. Based on their votes, five topics were selected: bullying, disabilities, animal abuse, self esteem, and peer pressure. After the topics were announced, each student was able to select one or more of the topics to write their story about. The children then spent the rest of the session working on another worksheet that helped them brainstorm their characters.

For the next several weeks, the students worked hard at creating their very own stories! They were able to use the same worksheet they used to analyze "Super Tulips Reach Out" to begin outlining their own stories. With music playing and lots of laughter to be had, the students had fun using their imagination to be super writers! It was unbelievable how creative these students were; one story was called "The Fruitables", based on fruit characters with superpowers! Another story was centered on animal abuse, and featured dragons! One of my favorite stories featured a superhero who had disabilities, and used his own experiences to teach others that differences are what make us special. It was so incredible to see the stories develop, and we were very impressed by the great storytelling! The students were also able to put pictures of themselves, as well as specific requests or doodles in their folder for the artists to later use

On our last day, the students handed in their finished stories and met our special guest, a friend of Kassie's. Our community outreach day began with the students meeting our guest, who is a black belt in karate. She shared her story about helping a friend who was bullied, and talked about how the students can be heroes in their school community too. She then cleared the mat to show them some of her moves. The kids were jumping up and down; they thought she was too cool! Afterwards, we helped the students write letters to Mayor Sheehan to tell her about their stories and what the program meant to them. It was also nice to read the letters later on and see how grateful the students were that we came! The letters will be presented to her during the Tulip Luncheon this spring. After one final fun game together, we all exchanged hugs goodbye, as well as promises to return soon with their very own comic books

The next week, I went to Catholic Central High School and met with Mr. Heilman's upperclassman art class. I spent the class period talking to them about what the Tulip Program is, the work we have done at Latham Ridge, and the good work they will be doing the next few weeks. It was during this meeting that it dawned on me that this literacy program was as much for these art students as it is for the students of Latham Ridge. High schoolers experience bullying, peer pressure, disabilities, and self esteem issues, just as elementary and middle schoolers do. However, I remember when I was in high school, my fellow classmates and I struggled to talk about these issues despite experiencing them. I realized that this art class now had the opportunity to creatively talk about these issues through their artwork; many of them selected stories that centered on themes that were relavant to them. I left the students' stories in very capable hands, and I look forward to seeing the finished work later this week!

We are currently planning our family day at Latham Ridge for the end of March. We will invite the students and their families to see their finished work. Each story will be professionally printed through the generosity of Fort Orange Printing. A copy will be given to each student and their artist. We will also compile each story from every school we visit into a hardcover book to present to the City of Albany at the end of our term. We plan to invite Mayor Sheehan to the family day as well, as many of our students wanted to meet her and thank her for the Tulip program

In the meantime, we will begin meeting with our next group of students. We will be working with middle school aged girls from Myers Middle School. We have been invited to work with a club the school runs, which focuses on guiding young women on the path to academic success. We are very excited to begin this project and look forward to inspiring more of Albany's future leaders to be heroes to their community!

With that being said, 2015 Tulip Queen nominations are still open. As you have read, the Tulip Queen program is a wonderful opportunity for extraordinary young women to give back to their community by shaping students of today into leaders of tomorrow. If you or someone you know would make an excellent addition to the Albany Tulip Queen program, please send in your nomination today!

Tulip Love,

Posted by: Kasmira Wilkens, 2014 Tulip Court

Wednesday January 21, 2015


Nominations for 2015 Tulip Court

It’s that time of year! Nominations for 2015 Tulip Court are up and ready. Nominations started Jan 1st and you can go nominate at


This program is a great opportunity to give back to your community and work with four other great girls. The Tulip Queen and Court are Albany's vibrant ambassadors, attending community functions, promoting education and coordinating literacy programs throughout their year of reign. These programs help shape kids’ lives in our wonderful city of Albany.


I remember my nomination like it was yesterday. A teacher at my old high school heard about the Tulip Queen program on the radio and thought of me. Later that day she called me into her room and told me she had nominated me. I was surprised and honored by the nomination as well as anxious for the process to begin.


The best part about the nomination process was the Tulip Tea. I’m not going lie, since I was the only one in high school and everyone else was in college, I was intimidated at first. But being the youngest nominee was actually an advantage. All the girls were able to give me advice about college and what to expect, and even helped me make my college decision.


My teacher’s nomination made me feel honored that someone had faith that I could fulfill this important role. With the support of my teacher and my family, I made it to all the way to the Tulip Court while I was still in high school!


So send those nominations for a wonderful and fulfilling opportunity to potentially be a part of Albany Tulip Queen and Court!




Posted by: Meghan Yi, 2014 Tulip Court

Sunday December 14, 2014


Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Despite the forecast of tons of sleet and snow this week, winter has not slowed down the Tulips! The past few weeks have been busy ones as we’ve been working “super” hard putting the finishing touches on our Imagination Ink: Calling All Super Writers literacy program, volunteering at holiday themed events in the city, and winding down our semesters at our respective schools.

Imagination Ink: Calling All Super Writers has been a major work in progress since we were first selected as finalists way back in May. All five of us brought novel ideas for the literacy program (pun intended) to the table: Caitlin suggested using a graphic novel as a teaching tool, Jillian created a worksheet on how to dissect and discuss books with students in a highly educational way, Tara shared her background in lesson planning to give us a concrete game plan to lead us in the classrooms, Kassie’s optimism and creativity reminded us to aim big, but to also have fun with the process, and I pushed for the overarching theme of teaching students the importance of recognizing issues in their community, reaching out to and learning from local role models and leaders, and actually doing something about it to make their home in Albany a better place (the students are, after all, our next generation of leaders!). After pulling bits and pieces of our individual proposals together we are nearly ready to debut our collective literacy baby, a cohesive and engaging program we really feel is going to rally students to be excited about improving their literacy. We look forward to sharing Imagination Ink in several schools in the coming months!

Besides the literacy program, we’ve been busy meeting with and working with you, our favorite Albany community members, at events throughout the city. Last Wednesday, we helped flip the light switch, listened and danced to the awesome a capella music provided by the Albany High School music department, and ate the always amazing donuts from Cider Belly at the City of Albany Tree Lighting with Mayor Sheehan.

On Saturday, Tara and I set up food for post-race festivities, handed out shirts at registration, and directed 1700 eager (and brave!) runners to the starting line at the 18th annual Albany Last Run, a 5K through the Capital Holiday Lights in Washington Park. (Registration closed out before I could sign up, but mark my words, I will be running it next year…literally with bells on!)

Finally, on Sunday, we worked on Santa Claus bookmarks, clothespin angel tree ornaments, and paper star cutouts with children and their families visiting the craft station at the Empire State Plaza Tree Lighting hosted by the New York State Office of General Services and SEFCU. Tara, Kassie, and I even got to meet and snag a picture with Santa!


As if that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, our fall semesters just finished and/or are wrapping up (ha, are you sick of these puns yet?!). While Jillian finished her semester a couple of weeks ago at Union and is participating in a prestigious dance program in Bali for a few weeks on an incredible scholarship, Caitlin, Kassie, and Tara are in the midst of their finals at Siena and St. Rose. As for me, I have one more exam and a million and one things to do here at Albany Med before I return home to Maryland to hibernate, relax, and celebrate the beauty that is Christmas with my family and friends.  It has been one crazy semester, but when I stop to take a deep breath, reflect on it all, and count my blessings, I thank God for all of the awesome opportunities and wonderful people He has placed in my life!

Looking forward to everything 2014 will bring for you and me, and wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons,

Posted by: Jillian Callanan, 2014 Tulip Court

Wednesday November 19, 2014


Winter may be just around the corner, but the Tulips are still in full bloom!

The cold may be setting in, but the Tulips have been hard at work these past few weeks as we have attended numerous events throughout Albany and are putting the finishing touches on our literacy program! We started off the month of October by attending Homecoming festivities at the Albany Academies, where we face painted and met a lot of new faces in the community. This event was a great way to start off the fall season, and, fortunately enough, those in attendance were greeted by sunshine and warmth as the day progressed. It is always so fun to meet more and more members of the Albany community, and we are certainly perfecting our face painting skills!

Following the Albany Academies Homecoming, the Tulips attended the Cash for Coats event at the Albany Devils opening home game. The Tulips and other volunteers raised $700 total! This was extremely exciting because it is always such a great feeling to give back to members of the community who are in need. Caitlin, Tara, Kassie, Meghan, and I finished off the month of October with the Festival of Nations at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. This event was full of food, music, dance, and culture from all around the world, and it truly opened our eyes to the amazing diversity present in the Albany community. Caitlin appeared as a judge for the Miss Festival of Nations contest, and it was very exciting and informative to hear from the young women contestants about their native countries and the pride they have in them. Of course, we could not leave the venue without trying some of the delicious food, and needless to say, we had an incredible time overall!

With the holiday season approaching, we have been diligently working on our literacy program, which will be in full swing very soon! Our graphic novel focus calls for a great deal of work, and we cannot wait until we can present this program to children in the City of Albany. Enriching the learning experience, especially through reading and writing, is a very important goal of ours, and we seek to open children’s eyes to the advantages of having these fundamental skills. 

Winter may be just around the corner, but the Tulips are still in full bloom! We hope to continue to meet more and more of you around the city as we continue to attend various different and exciting events throughout Albany. It’s going to be a busy month, but we are ready and enthused for what is to come!

Posted by: Caitlin Whelan, 2014 Tulip Queen

Wednesday October 1, 2014


Catch Us If You Can!

Phew, it has been a very busy month for the Tulips! We have attended a handful of events, have been finalizing the details of our Literacy Program, and are all back to school! At the end of August, the 5 of us attended a backpacking event at the Capital City Rescue mission, where 500 backpacks were being donated to students in need. There was facepainting, food, and crafts galore! We had our facepainting skills put to the test, as we had lots of requests for Spiderman, Hulk and Batman full face paintings! Tara even successfully painted Thomas the Train on one little boy's cheek! This event was a nice way to meet some more of the children we may potentially be working with when we begin our Literacy Program, as well as a great opportunity to meet a number of community leaders and role models who dedicate their time to run the shelter and this event each year.


In the beginning of September, I was asked to be featured on the Siena College Bonner Change Makers radio show, which is broadcasted on WVCR 88.3 the Saint. Kate Bender, the host of the show (and also last year's Tulip Queen) introduced me to her audience, and asked me a number of questions about the Tulip Queen program, events, and about our literacy program! It was such a nice way to update the local community about the good work this program seeks to accomplish, and to reflect on the fun the girls and I have had so far while doing this service!

Over the recent weeks, the Tulips and I attended Hispanic Family Day and the Teal Ribbon Run. Hispanic Family Day was a lot of fun for us, as the Plaza events always are! We ran a craft station, where families could come color pictures of several country flags, create cultural masks, or make friendship bracelets (all while listening and dancing to music played by Radio Disney!). Our station was pretty popular, as children came to draw and stayed to talk to us! When we first opened the station, two middle school girls chatted with us about how they want to go to school to be doctors, leaving us quite impressed. One of the girls told me how she has wanted to be a Tulip Queen since she was a little girl, and how she wants to make a difference to others like we are! We were all quite touched that not only did this young student appreciate the work we did, but wanted to do similar acts of service herself! Later, a brother and sister came to the table, an 8th grader and her younger brother, and chatted away with me for over an hour! We created masks and friendship bracelets together, all while sharing lots of laughs. The little boy made a second bracelet to match the first one he made, and gave it to me so that "I would remember that we were friends forever" (this brought a tear to my eye!). They stayed until our station closed, and left after giving me lots of hugs and promises to come see us again soon.

The next morning, Tara and I volunteered at the Teal Ribbon Run at Washington Park. We helped guide participants to sign in stations, gave out awards to runners, and even got blue hair streaks for ovarian cancer awareness! It was so great to see the Albany community come together to raise money and awareness for this cause, and all of their efforts really made a difference! Collectively, volunteers, runners and walkers managed to raise thousands of dollars, all of which will be donated to two organizations whose missions are to beat ovarian cancer. Tara and I want to attend this event next year as runners!

With September at a close, the court and I have several events coming up, including the Festival of Nations and the Albany Academy Homecoming game! We look forward to attending these events, while preparing to bring our Literacy Program to our first school next month! With a busy month to come, and many events to attend, catch us if you can!! 

Tulip Love,


 My mask (middle) and with the masks of  an 8th grade girl and her little brother! 

We are all smiles at Hispanic Family Day!!




Tara and I saying cheese at the Teal Ribbon Run! It wasn't too long ago the 5 of us were smiling here right after the Tulip Festival Coronation ceremony!




Posted by: Jillian Callanan, 2014 Tulip Court

Sunday August 3, 2014


Hello again, Albany!

Summer sure is in full force, and Caitlin, Tara, Kassie, Meghan and I have been hard at work planning our literacy program and reaching out further into the Albany community. I can’t believe it has already been over two months since coronation, but we have not wasted a single minute as the Tulip Queen and Court! From attending various events throughout Albany to putting the finishes touches on our literacy program, the time I have spent as a member of the 2014 Albany Tulip Court has been truly memorable. It is incredible to look back at how much we have already accomplished and even more exciting to look forward at what is to come!

After spending the Fourth of July at the Plaza, we returned again for GE Kids Day, and we are so glad we had this opportunity to meet more members of the Albany community! Our arts and crafts skills were put to the test yet again, but in the most enjoyable way! We made tulips for children to decorate, and, not only did this event allow us to spend valuable time with youth in the area, but it also gave us the opportunity to spread the word about what the Albany Tulip Queen and Court do. Following this fun time spent with many of Albany’s younger generation, we were lucky enough to meet many senior members of the community at two Senior Sunday events at Jennings Landing! As we served these wonderful men and women lunch, we were able to hear many of their stories and wise words of wisdom. We were given the opportunity to meet even more senior members of the Albany community at Kenwood Manor in Delmar as we helped out with Bingo night. While we were told that we made the residents’ day by helping out and visiting with them, in all honesty, they made ours. We are so fortunate to be able to reach out to and meet Albany residents of all ages, and Caitlin, Tara, Kassie, Meghan and I cannot wait to attend more events such as these throughout the year!

Aside from the wonderful opportunities we have had to go out into the Albany community, we have been quite busy planning our literacy program which will be in full swing this fall! We have decided to focus on graphic novels by practicing how to read them, analyze them, and write them. We each spent time drafting graphic novels of our own as practice for this program, and we are very excited to help children in Albany schools get excited about reading and writing! After reading a graphic novel with an important social message, students will have the opportunity to analyze the story and do some graphic novel writing of their own. While we are finishing up getting everything in order, we are very excited to get the ball rolling in the fall and help students throughout Albany truly realize their potentials as readers, writers, and leaders in the community.

From community outreach to program planning, Caitlin, Tara, Kassie, Meghan and I have been quite busy these past few months, but the fun definitely does not stop there. We are so excited to meet more and more of the Albany community and get our literacy program started! Everyone we have been fortunate enough to meet already has left an impact on our lives, and we cannot wait to continue making an impact on a community we are so proud to be a part of!

Tulip Love,

Posted by: Meghan Yi, 2014 Tulip Court

Thursday July 10, 2014


Summer is in full swing, Albany!

As I type this blog entry, I can’t believe that we are already two months into our reign as the 2014 Albany Tulip Court! From the hectic weeks leading up to Coronation Day in May to the whirlwind of a Tulip Festival weekend to finishing up our rigorous academic years to fun mingling with the Albany community at different events to planning our literacy programs for the year to enhance the Mayor’s Literacy Campaign, the City of Albany has certainly kept us busy this summer, and I know that this is just the beginning! (Phew! Even typing all of that has me out of breath!)

My name is Meghan Yi, and I am a second year medical student at Albany Medical College. I was born and grew up in Ellicott City, Maryland between DC and Baltimore, but I am no stranger to the Albany area; I graduated from the beautiful Siena College (Go Saints!) with a degree in Biology after four amazing years at the school. Siena’s Franciscan Catholic tradition, which emphasizes service and the necessity for treating each and every person with the God-given dignity that he or she deserves, are lessons that I have taken to heart and try my best to emulate in my daily life. Siena pushed me to always give back to the community that has given me so much, whether that was through building homes with Habitat for Humanity over spring breaks, teaching math and English for a summer in Namibia, or biking across the country to support the affordable housing cause; I truly believe that this “impulse to serve” mentality is what guided me to become a Tulip.  

To me, the Tulip legacy is one of many things, but primarily service, and to spend a year working with and for the City of Albany is the opportunity of a lifetime. As Tulips, we have been given the tremendous responsibility to try to make a difference in the Albany community, and it is not a task the five of us take lightly. I am confident that our unique literacy programs we are working hard to develop will not only engage Albany youth but will also inspire these young scholars to value reading, writing, and the education system in general  as a pathway to accomplishing their goals. I am thankful to my own parents, older brother, and teachers I had growing up who constantly encouraged me to ask questions, try new things, work hard, and never give up, building the foundation upon which I stand today. These are the same messages I hope to spread to Albany students throughout the next year as a Tulip.

As a non-Albany native, I also look forward to the opportunities to attend so many events this year and truly experience the very best Albany has to offer. I already love Albany for its proximity to the Catskills and Adirondacks, beautiful places to run and bike, great variety of restaurants, and most importantly, the exceptionally friendly people, but I’ve been amazed by the rich culture hiding in my own backyard at churches, schools, concert halls, and other establishments even these past two months have exposed me to. Attending different festivals, concerts, events at local schools, and other celebrations I had no idea even existed has been enlightening and eye-opening, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year has in store for us.

One of my favorite recent events we’ve been able to participate in was the 4th of July Celebration at the Plaza during which we braved the rain and wind to work on some patriotic, super glittery arts and crafts projects with Albany natives and visitors alike. Between the legitimate pieces of artwork our new friends created, the live music, all of the foods (gyros, crepes, and Cuban food all in one day-a girl’s dream!), and the honestly incredible fireworks show that had me, I kid you not, “ooh-ing and ahh-ing” the entire night, the 4th festivities have definitely been a highlight of my summer.

As my second year classes begin on July 21st, it seems like my official summer is coming to an end, but for the city of Albany, summer excitement is still going strong! We’ve still got the GE Kids Day at the Plaza, Senior Sundays, several more Alive @ 5 concerts, and more up ahead in the coming weeks, and I hope to see and meet you all out there while we take advantage of the warm weather!

Stay cool, take care, and God bless,


Posted by: TaraMarie Crisafulli, 2014 Tulip Court

Monday June 16, 2014


Hello Albany!

I am TaraMarie Crisafulli, and I have been given the honor to be a part of the 2014 Tulip Court! This opportunity has only just begun but has brought my fellow Tulips and me to some amazing events. Within the past two weeks, the Tulips have attended Alive at 5, Eagle Point Elementary's field day, and the Festival of India. The other day, my mother had asked me which one of these events were my favorite; quite honestly, I still cannot make up my mind!

Eagle Point's field day provided us the opportunity to get to know the students. During our time there we helped set up and run different activities. The students had smiles from ear to ear and were just as excited as we were to participate in all of the activities.  It made my day to know that these students were able to have a fun, active day filled with teamwork opportunities. There was also some amazing weather!

We had an interesting transition of events when attending Alive at 5. Despite the rain, there was still an amazing turn-out for The Features, and Fitz and Tantrums. Not only did we get to listen to some great music, but we also got to hang out backstage after the show with the bands! As we attend events like Alive at 5, it continues to amaze me when I get to see how close knit Albany really is. Caitlin had stated while we were at Alive at 5, that it is interesting and comforting to see that there were a large amount of people in attendance from so many different walks of life. I couldn't have said it better myself!

Last, but most certainly not least, Saturday June 14th, we were invited to attend the Festival of India. We were welcomed with open arms at this culture-filled event. The Tulip Queen and Court indulged in  tasty cultural food, music, clothing, and jewelry. While the event was running there were live musical and traditional dance performances put on by a range of age groups. We even had the opportunity to introduce ourselves to the crowd and tell them what the Tulip Program was all about! Although we have had a good amount of official Tulip business to attend to, we are very hard at work on our literacy program. The Tulip Queen and Court have been stirring up some very original ideas to strengthen literacy in the Albany school district. As of right now the program is top secret, but stay tuned to see when we will be revealing our program!  I am very excited to be working with a strong team of young ladies this year. Watch out, Albany - we have some fun projects heading your way! Sending Tulip Love and Sunshine, TaraMarie

Posted by: Jillian Callanan, 2014 Tulip Court

Monday June 2, 2014


Hello Albany!

Being named a member of the Albany Tulip Court has already proven to be an opportunity of a lifetime. For those of you I have yet to meet, my name is Jillian Callanan, and I am a sophomore American Studies major at Union College. I, along with the newly crowned Tulip Queen, Caitlin, and Tulip Court members, Tara, Kasmira, and Meghan, are so incredibly excited for a year of giving back to our beautiful Albany! Although Coronation was only a few weeks ago, we have been hard at work thinking and beginning to plan for our additions to the Mayor’s Literary Program and have already had the opportunity to attend several exciting events.

Throughout the month of May, Caitlin, Tara, Kasmira, Meghan and I have been privileged to support and participate in a number of events throughout the Albany area. The Teresian House Fashion Show took place on May 14th, and I cannot begin to describe how much it meant to the five of us to be able to meet such inspiring and wisdom-filled elderly members of our community, as well as escort them down the runway! Hearing the incredible life stories of so many of the residents and being able to talk to them about our goals and aspirations was truly an honor, and this was a day we will never forget. The next event we were excited to be a part of was the Greek Festival at St. Sophia’s Greek Orthodox Church, where we participated in the ribbon cutting, toured the venue, and shared in some wonderful Greek food and dancing! It was wonderful to be a part of this important event in Albany, and the fun of that night did not end there. Following the Greek Festival, we attended the Mendelssohn Club Spring Concert where we were serenaded by an incredibly talented male chorus group and were able to introduce ourselves as the 2014 Tulip Queen and Court. Attending and participating in these events meant so much to us, and we were also fortunate enough to take part in programs that focused on literacy, a cause near and dear to our hearts. 

Caitlin, Tara, Kasmira, Meghan and I were happy to spend time at Eagle Point Elementary School at their Literacy Celebration and Readers to Leaders event. We took this opportunity to read both poems and books to students at the school, and we shared with them our road to community leadership. As implementers of the Mayor’s Literary Program, the Tulip Queen and Court strive to promote the importance of reading and help children throughout Albany County realize their true potential as members of the community. These events at Eagle Point Elementary School allowed us to begin promoting this, and it was wonderful to see the captivated and happy looks on the children’s faces when we read to them and helped them with several reading and verbal activities. 

While our time as the Albany Tulip Queen and Court has just merely begun, we are so incredibly happy that we have already had numerous opportunities to reach out to the Albany community. I look forward to the further planning and implementation of our literacy program and to attending and being a part of many other events throughout Albany. I am so very grateful for this opportunity, and Caitlin, Tara, Kasmira, Meghan and I cannot wait to meet you all!

Tulip Love,


Posted by: Caitlin Whelan, 2014 Tulip Queen

Friday May 16, 2014


Greetings, Albany!

For those of you I have yet to meet, my name is Caitlin Whelan, and I cannot begin to describe how excited I am to be your 2014 Tulip Queen! I am currently attending Siena College, where I just completed my second year as a Psychology major. As the school year draws to a close and summer begins, I look forward to getting right to work with my fellow Court members, Jillian Callanan, TaraMarie Crisafulli, Kasmira Wilkins, and Meghan Yi. It is such an honor to work alongside of four impressive young women for the next twelve months, as we create original ideas to enhance the Mayor's Literacy Program. We feel so privileged to have the opportunity to give back to the community that has given so much to us.

The Court and I would also like to congratulate Kate Bender and her Court members, Meghan Cahill, Fendi Munoz, Gigi Diffenback, and Alexis Osborne, for their fantastic year of work - you have touched the lives of many throughout your reign, and have served as impressive models for us to follow. We would also like thank Mayor Sheehan, Marcus Pryor, the 2014 Selection Committee, and the staff at the Office of Special Events for all of the support they have given us and will continue to give us throughout the coming year.

        When one looks to modern media and pop culture, it often proves challenging to find role models for young women and children. While Jillian, Tara, Kasmira, Meghan and I would not call ourselves celebrities, we look forward to being the positive role models that the Albany community needs. During our journey thus far, we have met a number of driven, intelligent and caring young women who will also serve as beacons of love and service through their own endeavors. The Court and I would like to commend these women for all of their efforts, and wish them much success and happiness.

The Court and I began our first day of reign by crowning the Mother of the Year during the second day of 66th Annual Tulip Festival. We then created Mother’s Day cards and crafts with children in the Kid’s Zone. It was such a fun, creative way to begin to meet some of the families of the Albany community! This week, Jillian, Tara, Kasmira, Meghan and I look forward to attending the Teresian House Annual Fashion Show, where we will be meeting and escorting a number of elderly members of the community down the runway! This Friday we will take part in the opening ceremonies of the Annual Grecian Festival! We are ecstatic to meet those in attendance, eat delicious food and (attempt!) to dance a traditional Greek dance!  Shortly after, the Court and I will be excited to go to the Mendelssohn Club Concert for a night of amazing entertainment! Next week we plan to attend several Eagle Point Elementary Family Literacy events, where we will read our favorite children’s books to students, as well as share stories of how each of us became community leaders (which will hopefully inspire them to do the same!).

This summer is sure to be full of more exciting events. With beautiful weather and so many things to see and do, I hope you take advantage of the many events this city has to offer.  If you would like to have us at your event you can go to to request us! For updates about events we will be attending, please visit the City of Albany Events website, or follow the Court and me on Twitter @Tweeting_Tulips. We look forward to meeting you all!

Tulip Love,


Posted by: Gigi Diffenback, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday May 12, 2014


Goodbye, Albany!

            My year on the 2013 Albany Tulip Court has truly been an honor. I genuinely can’t believe that this city offers such a rare and amazing opportunity to its young women. I have to admit, even though I had friends on previous Tulip Courts, and I knew what being a Tulip was about, I had no idea how much we actually do in the city. Being able to attend so many wonderful events around the city and interact with the residents of Albany, that we otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to meet, has been so much fun. I’m really going to miss it.

            My favorite part of being on the Tulip Court was the literacy programs. As a future teacher, being in the classroom and interacting with students is one of my favorite things to do. It has been such a blessing to go into different schools and meet with the students every month. It was also special because I was able to work with the children I student taught in the fall. Being able to work with them all year and watch them grow as learners was so amazing. I really enjoyed being able to see the progress they have made throughout the year. The students and teachers we worked with this year are so hardworking and special. Teachers always tell us that the students always look forward to our visit, which was so exciting to me. I really enjoyed going to these programs with the girls and hearing the different stories and their goals in life. I think hearing the students talk about their passions was my favorite part of “Oh the Places You are Going.” Another program we did, “Feed Your Mind,” was enjoyable because the students were always excited to read and create snacks based on books. Food is fun no matter what age you are!

            Aside from our regular events and programs, we were able to achieve great accomplishments when coming up with our own events. We really stepped outside the box this year and got creative with things! We are so proud that we were able to take our ideas and really produce great events! I am so proud of all the work we did. We truly worked as a team and had an incredibly productive year.

 Thank you to all of the organizations and event planners that allowed us to be a part of some great times in Albany! It has been such an honor to attend events as an Albany Tulip Court member. The people we met always put a smile on our faces and we have so many fond memories face painting, coloring, cheering on runners, dancing at Alive @ 5 and Greek Festival, reading to students and so much more.  Thank you to everyone that made this possible for us and supported us this year: Aimee, Amy, Nicole, Marcus, Melli, Mayor Sheehan, former Mayor Jennings, and the Tulip selection committee! And a huge thank you to my mom and friends who were such an amazing support for me this year!

            Now that Tulip is over, I will be continuing my Graduate education at The College of Saint Rose. I hope to be finished with my degree requirements by May 2015. I am also the new Graduate Assistant in the Community Service office at Saint Rose, and I am so excited! It’s been a long and crazy year as a Tulip, but I wouldn’t change a thing! Though it will be nice to have a little more room in my schedule, I will certainly miss my time on the Court. Good luck to the 2014 Tulip Queen and Court!

Tulip love always! And as the 2012 Tulip Court would say, YOTO! 

Posted by: Fendi Munoz, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday May 12, 2014


Goodbye, Albany!

It is incredibly surreal to think that it is the end of our Tulip year and we are passing on the torch to new Tulip Court Members who I know will make the Tulip family proud! I am certainly excited to see what ideas they have for this year!  

I have to say, I am so grateful for this experience and everything it has taught me. It has truly changed my life forever. I learned what it really means to serve your community and how it can affect, even in the smallest way, those who live in it. It was an absolute honor to serve as an Ambassador to the City of Albany and will always remain an accomplishment I will feel proud of! I was very fortunate to work with four wonderful ladies who also share a love for community service: Kate, Alexis, Gigi, and Meghan. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of girls to work with and honestly see bright futures ahead for each of them. They are strong, intelligent, talented young ladies and I cannot wait until I see what they will do in the future!

 I will definitely miss the children we worked with and their bright shining faces whenever we would read a book to them or talk about what they would want to be when they grow up. It felt wonderful to open that door for them because they began to understand that there were so many possibilities for their lives and futures! We also helped them to understand that no matter what they wanted to do, they would have to work hard in school to get there. That in itself is the most important impact we have made this year, and I feel happy walking away knowing that these children understand that education and literacy is so important to their future.

The week after Tulip finishes I will be graduating college, which is so crazy to me! The ending of two wonderful experiences all at once! I do have to say that I have been blessed to have had Tulip come into my life during my senior year of college. All it has done is help me get closer to a new beginning with a new understanding of life and my purpose in it. I hope that in the near future I can continue to work with children and the community, even if it is just in my spare time. Being a member of the Tulip Court has showed me that I am even more passionate than I realized about participating in serving the community, and I know that I will be even more active after the Tulip year is over! I would like to thank the Tulip Festival Chairman Marcus Pryor, Aimee Gould-Pryba from the City of Albany Office of Special Events, our mentors for the year: Amy Kaplan and Nicole Sisto, Mayor Kathy Sheehan, the selection committee, and Melli Rose for all of their support throughout this year, we couldn’t have done it without you! I look forward to utilizing all of the tools that being a Tulip Court member has taught me and will be sure to keep this lessons with me wherever I go.

I hope you all enjoy Tulip Festival this weekend!

Tulip Love,


Posted by: Alexis Osborne, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday May 12, 2014


Goodbye, Albany!

Last year’s Tulip Court wasn’t lying when they told us our year would fly by. I can’t believe that we have achieved so much in just twelve short months. This year’s Court truly never stopped, and we have our weekly planners to prove it! Whenever we would finish one project, another one would be taking off.

Through all of the projects we have participated in this year, my favorite was the Albany Medical Center music video called “A Day at The Children’s Hospital”. This video was such a pleasure to make, the children we met were truly inspiring. The idea of a music video came about when we saw a similar video on YouTube to the song Roar by Katy Perry. We came up with the idea of creating a video for Albany Medical Center to show just how great our city is and how lucky we are to have such an incredible hospital in our backyard. We also wanted to highlight the amazing doctors, nurses, therapists, and all other staff members that make Albany Medical Center such a special place.

This year would not have been possible without the four amazing young women that I got to share this incredible experience with. Kate, Gigi, Alexis and Fendi, you are all amazing, and I am so lucky we all had this opportunity to serve the City of Albany together. You girls have become such a strong support system to me, and I appreciate each and every one of you more than you know. Due to the hard work and determination that you possess, I know you will all go on to do great things.

Congratulations to the incoming Tulip Queen and Court! I hope your year is even more amazing than ours was. While I am so sad that our year is over, I am so excited to see what a new group of girls will bring to the table. Thank you to former Mayor Jennings and Mayor Sheehan for letting us serve the City of Albany. I also want to thank everyone who has ever supported us, especially Marcus, Aimee, Melli, Amy, Nicole, and the Selection Committee. Without all of you, we wouldn’t have had half of the strength and guidance that we possessed throughout the year. Thank you for giving me this experience and allowing me to live out one of my childhood dreams. The Tulip Queen and Court is an amazing program that affects the lives of so many people, young and old, in the City of Albany.

I hope to see each and every one of you at the 66th Annual Tulip Festival. Don’t forget about my favorite part of the Tulip Festival on Saturday…Coronation! It has been an amazing year, one I will never forget. Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing program!

Tulip Love,


Posted by: Gigi Diffenback, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday April 30, 2014


Wow. It is unbelievable to me that this year has flown by already. I can’t believe that it is pretty much the end of our reign as 2013 Tulip Court.  This year has been a nonstop ride from the beginning. Sometimes I look back at my planner and think, “How did we possibly get all of this accomplished?!”


As I write this blog, I am able to reflect on all the accomplishments we’ve made as a Tulip team. Our Literacy programs are coming to an end, and we are so proud of all the accomplishments our students made this year. Feed Your Mind is always so much fun to do with the students - they get a kick out of creating their own snacks!  But, I have to say, Oh the Places You’re Going is my favorite program to do with the students, especially now that we have guest speakers visiting! A few weeks ago, some of the members of the UAlbany football team came in to speak with the children at TOAST. That was so much fun to watch! The students were really excited and had so many questions for the team. The players did a wonderful job speaking about the importance of education, hard work, and practice when it comes to succeeding in life.  The team was really inspiring, and it was so amazing to see the interactions between the team and the students. Our favorite moment of the day was when one of the third grade boys said, “Every day is a new day to do something great.” We were so impressed with that thought that one of the players said he wanted to put that quote in the locker room. What an inspiring day!

Looking forward, we still have a few more events before the selection of the 2014 Tulip Court! We are really looking forward to our Tulip Community Day at Saint Rose! We are excited to be able to display the work of our students and show Albany what the students are capable of. We say it all the time but, we are always so impressed with the students in our programs!

It’s the end of my first semester of graduate school at Saint Rose, and I am busy writing papers and handing in final assignments.  I will also be walking in graduation on May 10th, which is really exciting! I can’t believe how fast time went by.  It feels like yesterday I was at Tulip Festival!

Don’t forget, the 2014 Tulip Festival is right around the corner! There will be some amazing vendors, entertainment, and, of course, tulips! Mark your calendars for May 10th and 11th!  The 2014 Tulip Queen will be crowned at 12pm on Saturday, so come on out and show your support for a wonderful Albany tradition!


Posted by: Kate Bender, 2013 Tulip Queen

Monday March 31, 2014


Happy Spring Albany!!!

Well, it's spring at least by the date, and hopefully everyone is staying warm! It is hard to believe that there is a little over a month until the Tulip Festival. This year has honestly flown by faster than I ever thought possible!  With our year of reign wrapping up we are trying to do as much as we can!  This is a great season for the City of Albany because we have so many fun events taking place!  This month the girls and I took part in one of my favorite Albany traditions, the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  We were able to ride on a float with some lovely girls and boys who helped us wave to the crowd as we made our way down the chilly parade route.  In other news, this past week the Tulips hosted a benefit concert called 'Coffee for a Cause' in order to raise money for a local family who lost everything in three house fires this year.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support the cause. We were blown away by the number of people who came, including our very own Mayor Kathy Sheehan!  


In the coming weeks, we will have professionals come in to our schools in order to talk to the students about what they do and how they got there.  The students will work on the questions they are going to ask as well as their confidence with public speaking.  We are starting to wrap up our literacy programs at all three of our schools and because of that we decided we should go out with a bang!! Mark your calendars for April 28th from 6:30pm-8:00pm at The College of Saint Rose for the First Annual Tulip Community Day!  This event will allow the Albany community to come together to learn about what the Tulip Queen & Court do throughout the year while also showcasing the amazing work our students have been accomplishing in the literacy programs!


I am so sad that my time as the Tulip Queen is coming to an end.  It is an experience that will impact me for the rest of my life.  We all know of a young woman who serves her community and shows incredible leadership skills.  Make sure you take the time to nominate a deserving young woman in the Albany area for the 2014 Albany Tulip Queen!   To nominate go to


Tulip Love,


Posted by: Meghan Cahill, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday March 17, 2014


The snow is finally melting, Albany!

It amazes me that we’re already in the middle of March! April and May will be very busy months with all of the upcoming events that we have scheduled. Last year’s Tulip Court didn’t lie when they told us that it would fly by!


Two weeks ago we were at the Kids Expo at the Convention Center working in the circus tent. Not only did we get to help tons of children make their very own circus hats but we also had the chance to work on our own circus skills—scarf juggling, feather balancing, jump roping, you name it!  This past weekend we were on a float at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and had a blast! We also have been working diligently on our literacy programs, which are in the beginning stages of wrapping up. Seeing the children of Albany and how they benefit from these programs has been so inspiring. Many teachers have told us that on the days that we run our programs, the children will anxiously sit on the edge of their seats waiting for us.


Although we’re already in the 10th month of our reign, we still have a lot of great events and surprises up our sleeves. Be sure to keep an eye out! We have a lot of events coming up that we are planning and would love to see you there! Be sure to follow our Twitter account so you can follow what we’re up to! @Tweeting_Tulips


If you know an extraordinary young woman between the ages of 18-23 be sure to nominate her for the 2014 Albany Tulip Queen. Nominations will be closed on April 1st so don’t wait!




Posted by: Fendi Munoz, 2013 Tulip Court

Tuesday March 11, 2014


Hello Albany!

I cannot believe it is already March, and there are only two more months left in our Tulip year! It feels like just yesterday the girls and I were chatting about what our plans were for our literacy programs.


It has been so exciting to go to our schools and implement our programs with these children.  We have seen them grow every time we walk into the classroom. In our “Oh the Places You’re Going” program, the children learn more about the profession they would like to pursue, and it is wonderful to see the determination they now carry for that profession and their future. For our next session with the children, we will have professionals come in to talk with them about some of these professions, and the children are so excited!  They have even made lists of questions they would like to ask.  It is going to be wonderful!


We are also working with the children at the Straight Shooters program.  These boys carry so much love and appreciation for basketball and education. The boys in my group are in 7th and 8th grade and tell me how much they would like a basketball scholarship for college someday. Growing up as a girl with a family full of basketball players, I completely understand. We are currently reading the book “The Miracle of St. Anthony” where the characters grow up in New Jersey, which is where my cousins actually live. This personal connection allows me to identify with these boys, and I know they appreciate that. This book truly instills in them even more the passion for the game and education. It is so wonderful to be a part of this program and to help build an even bigger fire in them to keep moving forward, tackling every obstacle, until they reach their goals.

Thank you to Coach Fruscio for letting us be a part of it!


It may be getting closer to the end of our reign, but we have accomplished a lot within these past ten months, and I know we are all proud of that. The best part about it is the impact we have on the children we interact with and how they are beginning to see that education and literacy are truly important for their future.


Tulip love,





Posted by: Gigi Diffenback, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday February 19, 2014


Happy February!

The Tulip year has just been flying by! I can't believe it's already February. It's been an incredibly exciting year so far.

Our Literacy programs are running smoothly and we are really delighted with the students we are working with. Every time we visit it's so exciting to see the progress they have been making as readers and writers. We only have 3 visits left with our schools, which doesn't even seem real! We're so excited to continue to work with the students and see the final outcome of our programs. The best thing about these schools is seeing how hard the students work on their tasks. They are some incredibly talented and creative kids! They have written letters, created stories, and have impressed us with all of their accomplishments.

Our "Feed your Mind" program has also been a ton of fun. The kids really love being able to create snacks based on the books we're reading. I bet they didn't know eating fruits would be so much fun!

We have also been working with Coach Brian Fruscio and the Straight Shooter Camp kids once a month by reading books about basketball. I have to admit, I know nothing about basketball! I've been able to learn a lot from the group of boys I work with. They're so passionate about sports and I love that.  My group had a long conversation about my favorite sport, football, during our last visit. It's really great to be able to spend time with these guys; I look forward to every visit. My group is currently working on the book "Jordan Rules". I am going to know everything about Michael Jordan and basketball in the next few months!

Aside from our Literacy programs and Straight Shooters we have some SUPER exciting events planned for the next few months of our reign! I can't give too much information about it yet but we are all so incredibly excited!

Time sure is flying by but we have definitely been making the most of it! My life has been jam packed lately, especially because I just started graduate school at Saint Rose, but I have to say, I wouldn't want my life any other way.  I love being able to meet community members at events and work with different students of Albany. My time spent as part of the Albany Tulip Court has been so rewarding. If you know a bright young woman who wants to make a difference in her community, consider nominating her for the 2014 Albany Tulip Queen. It's an experience of a lifetime!


Posted by: Alexis Osborne, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday February 3, 2014


Hello, Everyone!

Hello, Everyone! Hope everyone is staying warm during this polar vortex here in Albany. Brrr.. it's so cold out there! Despite the cold, the Tulip Court has been busy.

Recently, the Tulips took a trip to Albany Academy where we partnered with Straight Shooters Basketball Camp, organized by Coach Brian Fruscio. We spent part of the day playing basketball with the kids in the program and surprised them with some Christmas goodies. The Tulips were able to secure personalized autographs from Indiana Pacers C.J. Watson to give to the campers. Thanks to generous donations from Casey Finn's Pub and Grill and Mater Christi Church, we were also able to provide school supplies, snacks, basketballs and other giveaways too. The smile on their faces was like no other. It was such a good feeling to give back and put a smile on a kid's face. We would like to add a special thank you specifically to Sarah Finning, Father Doyle and C.J. Watson for their generous contribution towards the Straight Shooters program.

The Tulips and I greatly value the act of giving. Anne Frank once said, "no one has ever become poor by giving." Whether it's volunteering your time or making a small contribution to a worthy cause, we encourage everyone in Albany and throughout the community to give to others, big or small. We've come to appreciate making a difference in our community, especially as members of the Albany Tulip Court.

As spring approaches, our time as Tulips is sadly coming to an end. However, we're looking forward to welcoming the next class of Albany ambassadors. Do you know a deserving young woman who would serve our community well? Consider nominating her for the 2014 Albany Tulip Queen! Nominations are now open through April 1. Stay warm out there!

Tulip love,
Alexis Osborne

Posted by: Kate Bender, 2013 Tulip Queen

Tuesday January 21, 2014


Happy New Year Albany

Happy New Year Albany! I hope everyone is staying warm during this cold winter! First, I want to welcome the new Mayor. We are so excited to have such a remarkable woman as Kathy Sheehan to help make this city the best it has ever been. The Tulips have been hard at work around the city this month with our literacy programs.  Students at TOAST just finished writing the final draft of their letters for our "Oh the Places You're Going" program.  We had the students talk about what type of job they wanted to have when they were older and what they can do to reach that dream. They wrote letters to those professionals telling them why they wanted to be a doctor, a lawyer, a singer, etc. and now we are in the process of sending them out. The students are so excited to hear how professionals in our community got to where they are today.  

A few weeks ago we had our program at Eagle Point Elementary where we read books about the snow, snowmen, snowflakes, and everything that makes winter fun!  After reading we made snowmen out of bananas, pretzels, and blueberries.  Safe to say they were the most delicious snowmen ever!  With all of the fun we are having in the schools it is hard to believe we are almost at the end of our year of reign.  That being said, if you know of a young woman who is a great leader and strives to serve her community, consider submitting a nomination on her behalf for the 2014 Albany Tulip Queen! It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Have a happy and warm winter!



Posted by: Meghan Cahill, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday December 18, 2013


It's the most wonderful time of the year, Albany!

As I write this I am sitting in front of the fireplace, watching the snowfall, drinking hot cocoa, and watching The Polar Express…cliché I know! Recently we attended the Fall Festival at TOAST, and one of the 1st graders said, “The Tulip Queens are here...this is the best day ever!” Another student turned to her and said, “Yeah this is better than Christmas!” Anybody who knows me knows that I am that person who is completely obsessed with Christmas and the holiday season, so being compared to it was amazing!

Our literacy programs have been in full swing these past couple months. The children are always so excited when we come to their classrooms. Oftentimes, their teachers will tell us that they have been on their best behavior all day waiting for us. Just this past Thursday we were at Albany Community Charter School. I was working with Ms. Davis’ second grade class and was blown away by them. Not only are these children intelligent, they are so hard working. Every time I leave TOAST, Eagle Point and ACCS I reflect on the amount of effort that these children are putting into the letters that we are currently writing. I couldn’t be more proud of them!

One of my all time favorite events happened just last week—the Christmas tree lighting at City Hall. Watching Mayor Jennings light the tree for the last time with the help of his granddaughter Ellie was so special. I am so thankful we were able to be a part of that.

Aside from being a Tulip, I have been really concentrating on school. I finished my last final on Thursday and am officially finished with my fall semester, and I couldn’t be more relieved.

I hope everybody has a happy, healthy and safe holiday season! See you next year!


Posted by: Fendi Munoz, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday December 4, 2013


Hello Everyone!

I hope you all enjoyed Thanksgiving with family and friends and were able to tell everyone what you were thankful for this year! I have been so busy with my classes during my senior year of college. I can’t believe that my first semester is about to be over.  I only have one semester left until I receive my diploma! I have also been busy performing with my UAlbany salsa performance group (Salsuny) for both SUNY and Albany community events.


The Tulip Court has also kept me busy since we are now in full swing with our literacy programs at Eagle Point Elementary, TOAST, and Albany Community Charter schools! We are implementing both of our literacy programs: Feed Your Mind and Oh The Places You’re Going! Just last week, we went to Albany Community Charter School where I had the honor of implementing the Oh The Places You’re Going literacy program to a class of first graders. I had each of them talk and write about what they want to be when they grow up and why they want to be in that profession - if you could only see the looks on their faces when they were talking about their dream jobs! They were so excited and inspired to know that reading and writing would help them achieve their goals! We also attended Fall Fest at TOAST where we made tie dye apples with the children with just a coffee filter, markers, and water! We had so much fun, and afterwards, we read a book about apples!


We have also recently joined forces with Coach Brian Fruscio on his program, Straight Shooters, where we are each mentoring a different aged group of underprivileged youth in Albany. These boys are being taught leadership skills and the value of an education in addition to learning how to play basketball. This program has already made such an impact on their lives and is helping them to know that seeking an education, especially higher education, is truly important for their future.


I know we are looking forward to more happy and inspired faces for the rest of our reign!


Live, Laugh, Love! Happy Holidays, everyone!



Posted by: Gigi Diffenback, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday November 18, 2013


Hello, Everyone!


I hope that you have all been enjoying this tricky November weather! It’s definitely my favorite time of year.  The end of the fall semester is quickly approaching, which also means an end to student teaching! I am finishing my time at Blessed Sacrament School in Albany, and it has been a great so far! We are currently starting up my service project with the class, and I couldn’t be more proud of their eagerness to help the world around them.  One of my favorite parts of teaching is seeing how passionate the students get about the projects they take on. It’s really exciting to me to see the way they progress in the classroom! I am definitely going to miss student teaching, but I am happy to be moving on. I hopefully will be starting graduate school soon and be on my way to having my own classroom someday.


Outside of student teaching and working, the Tulip events have kept me even busier. It’s been wonderful to see how our group has progressed and to witness the literacy programs take off.  We are so excited to be working on a lot of projects besides the literacy programs and have many events coming up! I know we are all looking forward to the tree lighting ceremony at City Hall in a few weeks!


Being on the Tulip Court is something that is still unreal to me. The amount of projects we are able to be involved in has been incredible. The dedication this group has shown is outstanding, and we have such a great team of people to back us up! If you know a woman between the ages of 18-23 that is dedicated to serving others and is a leader in her community, I highly recommend you nominate her for the upcoming 2014 Tulip Queen nomination process. It is a life-changing opportunity, and not to mention, incredibly honorable. It’s an indescribable feeling to be part of Albany’s history. It’s a lot of work, but it is worth it!


Enjoy the rest of November, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!


I also would like to congratulate the new Mayor of Albany, Kathy Sheehan!



Posted by: Alexis Osborne, 2013 Tulip Court

Tuesday November 5, 2013


For all of those who celebrate, I hope you had a great Halloween! I was excited to see some of the students from Albany Community Charter School, where we recently started our literacy programs, attending my school's (Albany Law School) Halloween “Trick or Treat Street.”  It was a blast!


On top of Halloween, this past month has been full of excitement! We recently started our literacy program at Albany Community Charter School, TOAST and Eagle Point! The kids were ecstatic, but I think it was the members of the Court & the Tulip Queen who were truly thrilled. We read Oh the Places You’ll Go at each of the schools, and we got to discuss with the children their dreams and aspirations. We pointed out the importance, like in the book, of being able to overcome obstacles in order to achieve their dream career. We talked about the process they will go through in order to obtain their goals in life, of course, focusing on the importance of staying in school and getting a great education. One girl raised her hand, and said she wants to be the Albany Tulip Queen one day, and when I asked her “Why?” she responded that she, “watches us impact the lives of others and be good to our friends, parents and teachers,” and she “likes the pretty crown!” How adorable! It’s nice to know that the kids look up to us, and we can continue to serve as role models, advocating for literacy and encouraging the youth to follow their dreams.


On top of our literacy programs in the schools, we have been so busy in the community! We planted our tulips for next year’s Festival, and I cannot wait for you all to see the design we chose! It took a lot of hard work, so I hope it comes out well! We also were honored to have the privilege to celebrate Mayor Jennings’ 20 years of leadership at his Tribute Night. He has done so many great things and continuously serves as our role model. He deserved that night! Also, the Tulip Queen and Court attended the Festival of Nations.  It was a blast and the girls had an amazing time! Albany is such a diverse community, and it’s so nice to see all of the cultures come together! Today, we attended the Annual Membership Tea at Ten Broeck Mansion and learned so much about Albany’s Dutch Heritage, especially in regard to the settlers and their demands for distilleries in our Capital. It was substantively interesting!


We have tons of upcoming events, including doing a service day at Ronald McDonald house, but we are focusing most of our time on our literacy program, and looking to have some fun while reading, writing, and speaking!


Remember, Henry David Thoreau once said:  “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Follow your dreams and never give up!


Tulip Love,

Alexis Osborne

Posted by: Kate Bender, 2013 Tulip Queen

Thursday October 24, 2013


Hello Albany!!

It is crazy to think that it is almost November already!! We have been very busy with events and our Literacy Programs are finally up in running!!! During the second week in October, we were able to go to Eagle Point where we ran our Feed Your Mind program.  Together with the students we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carl and made a delicious caterpillar out of grapes and other fruits.  We were able to talk about what the moral of the story was and why authors write books that have important life lessons.  Last week we had the opportunity to visit TOAST where we spent some time with two 3rd grade classes reading Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. We talked about what professions they want to have when they grow up and how they can get there.  We were excited to hear of a lot of future doctors, lawyers, basketball players, and firefighters!!  The students talked about what the book meant and how it is important to understand that accomplishing dreams isn’t always easy, but if you are determined to climb over the mountains and get around the roadblocks you can be anything that you want. 


This past weekend we went to ASH where we participated in their community walk by handing out books to the students!  This was a great way for students to figure out what books were appropriate for their reading level and take home some free reads! 


Looking ahead, we have some very exciting events to look forward to.  Both of our literacy programs will start at Albany Community Charter School this week as well as a weekend of planting tulips, celebrating the Mayor, appreciating culture at the Festival of Nations, and many more!!! We have seen so many students this past month that are excited to learn and to read, and we cannot wait to see how their skills improve through our programs over the next 7 months. 


For me personally, this month has been a busy one!! Lots of schoolwork and so many excited new projects for Girl Scouts!!! I am getting excited for Halloween, and our Halloween Extravaganza at Siena College this coming weekend!  It should be a blast!!!! Happy Halloween, and make sure to stay safe when trick or treating!!


Tulip Love,


Posted by: Meghan Cahill, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday October 16, 2013


The leaves are changing, Albany!

Time really does fly. We are already 5 months into our reign, and we have already had so many amazing experiences.  I can’t wait to see what is to come for our next 7 months!


We just recently started our literacy campaigns “Oh the Places You’re Going” and “Feed Your Mind”. We’ve spent so much time working on these campaigns, and seeing the reactions and excitement from the children is awesome. Last Tuesday we were at Eagle Point Elementary doing our “Feed Your Mind” campaign, and the children were so excited to have us. We read the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and the children were so eager to answer questions and tell us about themselves, which I loved.


As I sit here in the Saint Rose library drinking a large coffee, typing a research paper and studying for midterms, I looked through my planner only to realize that we have so many events coming up in the next couple of weeks! Some of these events include the Albany School of Humanities Community Walk, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk, Cash for Coats at the Albany Devils game, planting tulips in Washington Park, Mayor Jennings’ Tribute Night, the Festival of Nations and the Dutch Settlers Annual Membership Tea, just to name a few. I am especially excited for the Making Strides Walk because my grandma was diagnosed with breast cancer a few months before I was born and beat it! I have participated in this walk many times before and absolutely love the energy of everybody walking for a cause. Also, the weather is perfect every year.


Aside from “Tuliping," I have been really concentrating on school. I am taking a lot of difficult classes this year because I am able to do my Junior fieldwork this spring as a Sophomore, and I could not be more excited! I have also been working a lot at TSL Adventures. TSL is a daycare and an afterschool program. I am a substitute in the daycare and work as a teacher’s assistant after school.  Just recently I also started working before school putting children on the bus, which is ironic because I am definitely not a morning person. I don’t know how much longer I can do the 6am wake up calls!


I hope everybody is enjoying their Fall as much as I am! Don’t forget to come see us at all of these awesome events Albany has to offer! Also, you can follow us on Twitter and see what we’re up to @Tweeting_Tulips.



Posted by: Fendi Munoz, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday October 7, 2013


Happy Fall, Everybody!

I can’t believe the summer is over already! It seems to have gone by so quickly and now the cold is coming back again, so get ready to start wearing your scarves and sweaters for the new season! The Queen and Court have been hard at work on our literacy programs for the new school year. We are so excited to begin visiting Albany schools to spread awareness on the importance of literacy! But before we get started on that, we had some really great events these past few weeks. We attended the Teal Ribbon Run/Walk and had such a wonderful time cheering on the runners and raising awareness for Ovarian Cancer. The Jazz Festival was such a ball, and we sold all of the t-shirts at our merchandise tent, which we were so proud of!  We also got to show off our face painting skills at the North Albany Academy BBQ, and we were excited to see all of the smiling faces as the kids walked away.


We are getting close to starting our programs, and we couldn’t be more excited! This experience has been so great for us to engage with the Albany community, and now we’ll get to inspire Albany’s youth!


And with all of this excitement I still have to try to get my work done for the first semester of my senior year at the University at Albany! It is so surreal to be graduating and leaving this wonderful place, but I’ll keep the memories forever.


We are excited to begin this new school year with the youth of Albany’s community! Enjoy the fall, everyone, and remember to bundle up!!!


Posted by: Gigi Diffenback, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday September 11, 2013


I can’t believe that it is September! Wasn’t it just July, yesterday?


The months have certainly flown by, and the Tulips have been up to so much! It has been absolutely amazing connecting with the community at the events this summer. We have been out and about at all of the Alive at Five’s, African American Family Day at the Plaza, the Capital City Rescue Mission’s backpack giveaway, and more recently North Albany Academy’s annual BBQ and Jazz Festival! I will tell you one thing, we have absolutely mastered face painting! It has been such an interesting and fun experience to be at these Albany events. We never knew that we possessed the skill of face painting, but have I painted so many Spidermans and tigers this summer!


Aside from discovering our face painting skills (haha, just kidding- we aren’t that good, but we always manage to put a smile on everyone’s face which is more important) we have been diligently working on our Literacy programs, and we have FINALLY finished our curriculum for both! We will have much more information for everyone as we begin to implement them in different schools around Albany, but we are really proud of them and so excited to get started! We have had many meetings this summer regarding the programs, and we cannot wait to share all our hard work with the students of the city. What is so enjoyable about being a Tulip is not only are we able to meet so many great people at events, but we are also able to get into the classroom and really interact with the great teachers and students of the city! Our Literacy programs will really showcase the importance of reading and writing. We also hope to inspire the students by teaching them that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can achieve your goals and dreams!


I wish everyone the best of luck with this new school year! This past week I have begun student teaching at TOAST in one of their 3rd grade classrooms! It is going to be a great semester, and I am really looking forward to all this time has to offer! Who knows? Maybe I will be able to tie in the skills I have picked up from Tulip face painting into the classroom somehow! I hope the kids like butterflies and tigers because that’s about all I can do!


That’s all for now! Check out our twitter @Tweeting_Tulips for even more updates!

-          Gigi :)


Posted by: Alexis Osborne, 2013 Tulip Court

Thursday August 29, 2013


Hi Tulip Community,

As I sit here in my law school library, surrounded by books bigger than the Empire State Building, I write to you hoping that you all are enjoying the remainder of your summer as the end seems to be fast approaching (sooner for some of us than others).  I recently finished my first week of Orientation at Albany Law School and had the opportunity to get a feel of what this year will be like. I must tell you though of an experience that stuck out the most during my experience at Orientation: As the Dean of Students was delivering her address to the incoming Class of 2016, she spoke of 3 particular students that really made her proud. Guess who was one of them?! That’s right, me! I was so unbelievably shocked to hear her speak of my story and commend me on my involvement on the Albany Tulip Court. It left me proud yet humbled at the same time. 

Other than my busy week of Orientation and preparing for classes, I, along with the Tulip Queen and Court, have had such a fun-filled, yet impactful summer thus far. The events, the festivities were all amazing.

On top of all the fun-filled events we have had, the Albany Tulip Queen and Court recently visited a local hospital, in which we visited with the children of the Intensive Care Unit. Thanks to the Chairman of the Albany Tulip Festival, Marcus Pryor, the Albany Tulip Queen and Court were able to donate stuffed animals to the children on this floor. To see the smiles on the kids’ and parents’ faces were breathtaking and life-changing. You never know how much strength you can give someone just by smiling, or showing that you do care about them and you are there for them, in any way possible. It truly touched my heart to put a smile on those kids’ faces and show them the genuine nature of the Albany Tulip Queen and Court.

I would love to continue to write more, and I know that next time around I will certainly have tons to say because we will have started our literacy programs in the community by then (and boy oh boy, are they GREAT programs!!), but for now I have about 1,000 pages to read for class in 2 days! Have a great rest of your summer, and we continue to look forward to serve the community! 

I leave you with this quote, “Bloom where you are planted.”  Make the best of every situation and be the best person you can possibly be, in every situation! 

Tulip Love,
Alexis Osborne

Posted by: Fendi Munoz, 2013 Tulip Court

Wednesday August 14, 2013


Hello Albany!

I have to say I am so thrilled to be on this year’s Tulip Court! Congratulations to the 2013 Tulip Queen Kate Bender and my fellow Court members: Alexis, Gigi, and Meghan! We have such an exciting year for our literacy programs that we are currently in the process of planning! Working with these beautiful young women is sure to be nothing but a success, and I know that we are all so excited for the community to see how we will be contributing to the youth and helping to provide them with the foundations to continue growing and learning.


If you would like to see us, please feel free to check out the events we have on our calendar for this upcoming year! I know that we would be so excited to see all of you and participate in wonderful events that help the community.  Recently, we have attended some really great events including Senior Sundays, Alive at 5, the Civic Engagement Camp at Siena, the Beauty Camp at the Austin School of Spa Technology,  and African American Family Day at the Plaza. Senior Sundays are just wonderful! The seniors love to dance and enjoy the music with the Queen and Court, and it is so much fun!


Thank you again to those who have selected us for the 2013 Tulip Court and also to those who will be contributing and guiding us so that we may have a successful year! We look forward to showing you what we have in store!


Tulip Love,


Posted by: Meghan Cahill, 2013 Tulip Court

Tuesday July 30, 2013


Hello Albany!

I hope everyone has had an amazing summer so far! Although I’m sure most kids aren’t even thinking of going back to school yet, we are so excited to start working in the schools starting in September. We have been diligently working on our literacy programs since the day we were chosen as finalists!


Since May, we have been up to so much. We have attended tons of events and had so much fun. Some of our recent events have included the Father’s Day Concert, 4th of July at the Plaza, GE Kids Day at the Plaza, Senior Sundays and of course Alive at 5. Some of my personal favorites have been the Alive at 5’s and the Father’s Day Concert. The Father’s Day Concert was a blast! The performers, the USO Liberty Bells and the 94th Army Band, were incredible! The girls and I had such a blast dancing with all of the children, meeting the bands, mingling with the crowd and watching the fireworks!


My favorite thing about being a part of the Tulip Court is definitely the impact that we leave on the children of Albany. The week after the Coronation we went to Eagle Point Elementary School for some literacy celebrations and the children were so excited. They had so many questions and were so happy that we were there visiting their school. In going to all of these events we have realized that the children of Albany really look up to us, which I think is such an honor.  I’m not going to lie…we have signed a few autographs, and I have to say that my signature definitely needs some work!


I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their summer, and don’t forget to follow the 2013 Tulip Queen and Court on Twitter @TweetingTulips. Keep up with what we’re doing, and feel free to tweet at us! We can’t wait to meet all of you at the events so be sure to come out!


Posted by: Gigi Diffenback, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday July 8, 2013


Happy July, Albany!

Can you believe it's already July?! It feels like yesterday Kate, Meghan, Fendi, Alexis and I, along with the Mayor and the 2012 Queen and Court, were kicking off the Tulip Festival at the Street Scrubbing! Time sure flies when you're having fun!


It's been an exciting few weeks with the Tulips! The month of June was really busy with events. We participated in the Juneteenth Celebration, Fathers Day Concert, Alive at Five with the legendary George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic - one of the highlights of the summer - and we were even able to play a game of Bingo with the residents of Kenwood Manor.


As mentioned by Alexis and Kate, besides our events, we have been diligently working on our literacy programs! We are becoming more and more excited each day as the ideas keep coming together and can't wait to get started! We often mention how grateful and honored we are to be in this position and to be able to work with the great people of our Albany community. This year is going to be filled with great things, and I can't wait to see what our fabulous team comes up with!


Congratulations, again, to our Tulip Queen, Kate Bender, and to my fellow Court members, Meghan, Fendi, and Alexis!!


Thank you so much to everyone who has been involved with this process! I can't wait for this upcoming year! To the 2012 Queen and Court, thank you for being such great role models for us!


Enjoy your summer, Albany! We can't wait to see you at the events!


Posted by: Alexis Osborne, 2013 Tulip Court

Monday June 24, 2013


Hello, all!

I hope all of you had an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather over the past few days, after what seemed like an eternity of rain! I would like to first congratulate our amazing new 2013 Albany Tulip Queen Kate Bender, and the newest members of the fabulous Tulip Court: Meghan, Fendi and Gigi. A special thank you to Mayor Jerry Jennings, Marcus Pryor, The 2013 Albany Tulip Queen/Court Selection Committee, and the Albany Office of Special Events. Together, our team is unbreakable and I certainly am honored and blessed to have been given this opportunity. Also, thank you to the outgoing Tulip Queen Emily and the members of the 2012 Tulip Court for leaving such a positive impact in our community. We certainly have some big shoes to fill! 


Acknowledging that this truly is an opportunity of a lifetime and a blessing, I, along with Kate and my other court members, have been hard at work, brainstorming ideas and looking forward to implementing them in the forthcoming weeks! Make sure you all stay tuned and check back daily to see our plan in action, Albany!


I cannot wait to get our initiatives rolling, promoting literacy to the Youth and giving back to the community that has given us all the foundation to succeed. I certainly am excited and look forward to working with the 4 young beautiful ladies. 


And remember, if you dream it, you can achieve it!


Tulip Love,


Posted by: Kate Bender, 2013 Tulip Queen

Friday June 7, 2013


Happy Summer Albany!!!

Hello Albanians, I hope you are all enjoying the nice weather that has finally graced us with its presence!  Over the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of meeting many new people in the Albany community.  For those of you I have not yet met my name is Kate Bender, and I am honored to be your 2013 Tulip Queen!  With my first year as a business major at Siena College completed I am ready to hit the ground running with all of the wonderful things I will be doing this year along with my Court!  I want to say how incredibly honored I am for this opportunity and to work alongside my incredible Court, Meghan Cahill, Fendi Munoz, Gigi Diffenback, and Alexis Osborne.  This is a group of intelligent, fun, caring, and loving girls who are ready to make a difference.  I want to congratulate Emily and her Court, Nikki, Millie, Nicole, and Jillian on all of their hard work this past year, we truly have some big shoes to fill with all of the wonderful things they have accomplished.  I would also like to send a big thank you to Mayor Jennings, Marcus Pryor, the 2013 Selection Committee, and the staff at the Office of Special Events for all of the support they have given us and will continue to give us throughout the coming year.

It’s only the beginning of June and it has already been quite an exciting ride!  During our first week we went to Eagle Point Elementary School where we participated in the students’ Literacy Night where we performed reading theaters, allowing the children to read books out loud as if they were a play.  The next day we headed over to the Teresian House for their annual fashion show! My Court and I met some amazing elders in the community and walked down the runway with them as they strutted their stuff in their Sunday best!  Next we returned to Eagle Point where we each read our favorite children’s books, explaining the lessons that were hidden deep within the text.  We spoke with the children about what it is was that the Tulip Queen and her Court did throughout the year and how they could be leaders in their community.  That weekend we attended one of the most talked about events among the Tulip Family, Greek Festival!!!! After opening the Festival we went to mingle with those in attendance, dined on delicious food (we all ate way too much!), and danced a traditional Greek dance with the amazing dancers!  Once we finished eating we stopped by the desserts to take some tasty treats as we headed to the Mendelssohn Club Concert for a night of wonderful entertainment! This past week my Court and I headed over to TSL Day Care and spent the day reading and playing with the children. Boy, were they funny, some of them knew the books I read by heart from reading them over and over.  Those are the types of readers we like!

Wow! What a beginning to this incredible year!  Sometimes I still have to pinch myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming!  Together with Meghan, Fendi, Gigi, and Alexis we are going to have a phenomenal year, and we are already getting along as if we’ve known each other forever!  Remember, if you would like to have us at your event you can go to to request us!  We would love to meet all of you!!! If you see us at an event like the upcoming Alive @ 5’s or the Father’s Day Concert, make sure to come say hi!!!  Good luck to all who are finishing up their school year! We hope to see you very soon!!!


Tulip Love,


Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Wednesday May 15, 2013


Good Bye, Albany!

I’m sad to say it Albany but this will be my last blog! It’s actually unbelievable how fast this last year has gone. As a lifelong resident of Albany County, I’ve learned more about the City and its good people in the last year than I have in my 21 years prior. It has been an incredible opportunity to dive into so many schools and organizations promoting youth and literacy and my experiences will undoubtedly stay with me for the rest of my life. An extra-special thank you goes out to my court members, Nicole, Jillian, Nikki, and Millie - you girls are rock stars and our laughs and memories (and hours of endless sweating at Alive at Five) are just as much a part of my year as our literacy programs.

 After my reign concludes (or as my Grandpa so eloquently calls it, my de-throning) the whirlwind does not stop! My birthday falls within the following week and then I will graduate from the University at Albany the next weekend! It’s almost too much excitement to handle. I also have the privilege of serving as the Undergraduate Student Speaker for the Class of 2013 Ceremony, which I cannot describe how ecstatic I am to have such an awesome opportunity (my mom can hardly stay in her skin.) My post-graduate plans at present remain fairly open, which I will be the first to admit I have absolutely no problem with. I will hear back at the end of this month if I’ve been accepted into a program with the Spanish government’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports to serve as an English teaching assistant in Spain. Keep your fingers crossed! Apart from that, I hope to continue my commitment to serving youth throughout my life and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to spend my last year of school serving my own home community in such a wonderful way.

Posted by: Nicole Branchini, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday May 15, 2013


Good Bye, Albany!

Wow! Looking back at this past year time has flown by. It seems like yesterday the five of us were eager for the 64th annual Tulip Festival to begin. I see how excited the future Tulip Queen and Court members are to begin their time representing the City of Albany and develop their own literacy campaign. I know they will achieve great things and carry on the long standing Tulip tradition.


As I write this final blog as a 2012 Tulip Court member, I am looking back to all of the fun memories I have made and will forever cherish. Working with Emily, Nicole, Jillian, and Millie has been such an honor. They each have contributed to the success of our programs in their own individual way. It was a pleasure to work with them, and I will truly miss our times together.

As our literacy campaigns have come full circle, it has been a rewarding experience seeing how our programs have impacted the lives of children in the Albany area. Our final visit to the Albany School of Humanities was very exciting. We presented the second graders with a book of their work they had been compiling all year. Their faces lit up when we read aloud their passages. At the end of Tammy Tulip’s traveling journal, we took a picture with the classroom!

In closing, I would just like to thank everyone who has made our successes possible this year. From the Tulip Selection Committee, the Special Events Office, Marcus Pryor, and Mayor Jerry Jennings. Your hard work and dedication to excellence truly makes this city a great community to live in!

Good luck to the 2013 Tulip Queen and Court!

Posted by: Millie Condon, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday May 15, 2013


Good Bye, Albany!

This year has gone by so fast!  Before starting this Tulip adventure, I thought I knew everything about Albany.  But, after all of the exciting experiences I've had, Albany is like a whole new world to me.  I see kids around and I know that in some way or another our Tulip Court has impacted their schools. We've had the chance to work with so many deserving youths in Albany.  I think one of the most memorable experiences was doing our Read, Write, Dream, Speak Program at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany.  The kids were able to express to Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings their concerns and some of the things that came out of these children's mouths were so breathtaking.  Topics ranged from gun violence, school safety, and even environmental pollution.   

As the months go on I will continue my studies at Siena College as a Junior and studying  Broadcast Journalism and Media Production.  I will continue to serve at  my home away from home, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Albany of course, and I will continue to host Changemakers on WVCR 88.3 The Saint.  I look forward to taking the experiences from the Tulip Court with me to all my future endeavors. 

Posted by: Nicole Dama, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday May 15, 2013


Hello Albany!

If my calculations are correct, we did around 150 hours of service this year. It honestly feels like nothing compared to the impact we felt from the students and organizations we worked with. This number however does not include our continuing development of our literacy programs, monthly meetings and other duties. On the upside though, we blew away the average American volunteer hours in 2012 being 50.  How impressive!  This time just flew by and I am so proud to have been a part of the 2012 Albany Tulip Court. I think with this year’s implementation of two community development and leadership driven programs we have added to the beautiful tulip legacy in Albany as well as furthered the Mayor’s Literacy Campaign.  This year’s finalists also seem to have a lot of potential to do great things for this incredible city. 

The memories I have of this year will stay with me always. Last week at Albany School of Humanities will definitely be one of my favorites. It had not hit me that our year was over until being tackled with hugs by students at Albany School of Humanities. The students in Mrs. Donohue’s class, where we were finishing up our Traveling Tulips program, were climbing over each other to give us well wishes. Four of them injured themselves trying to do so but it was the kindest of gestures still the same. It has proven to me once again, as this entire experience has, that if you put good in the world, it will come back to you one day. The students had difficulty sometimes and  didn’t always enjoy writing but they were always appreciative of the help. Their tackling of us with hugs was the way they wanted to thank us.

I appreciate every opportunity, every event and every person we got to work with this year. Most importantly, thank you to the fabulous women who made it all happen. Emily, Nikki, Millie and Jillian, pat yourself on the back and give yourselves a high five because this year was incredible. We could have not done it without each other’s support. Thank you for being a great team and I cannot wait to see what great things you do in this world.

Also thank you I thank you City of Albany and Mayor Jennings for letting us serve you. I thank the selection committee, Aimee, Amy Bonnie, Sue and Marcus for helping us achieve something bigger than ourselves. I look forward to seeing how the new court adds to the Albany Tulip Queen legacy.

And don’t forget, YOTO! (You Only Tulip Once)



Posted by: Jillian LeFevre, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday May 15, 2013


Happy Tulip Festival Albany!

The weekend we have been anxiously awaiting has arrived; yes, the 65th Annual Tulip Festival is here! I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. 

It has been such an honor to serve as a 2012 Tulip Court Member.  Over the past year, we have been able to achieve so many more goals than we ever imagined.  It has been wonderful to see the transformation in each of us over the months- growing individually, and together, to help make Albany a better community for our youth. 

Our literacy programs an d the numerous events we attended weekly, have been so successful, I do not think we could have asked for a better year.  Jazzy Sun Birthday Party, Juneteenth in Washington Park, the Music Mobile in Lincoln Park, State tree lighting at City Hall, Blue Ribbon Ceremony at the Albany Charter School, Alive at Five, Big Read Kickoff at the Palace, Bingo at Kenwood Manor, GE Kids Day at the Plaza, riding in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the Albany Book Festival at Albany Academy for Girls are just a few events we were invited to that helped make our year that much more positive and meaningful. 

As I am happy to have some time to relax this summer and go boating, camping, and four wheeling with my family and friends, I will miss seeing Millie, Nicole, Nikki, and Emily, as well as the children in our literacy programs and at the other events.

 I hope to see you this weekend at the Tulip Festival, and do not forget to stop by our bed and see the crown of tulips we planted!  I wish the 2013 Tulip Queen and Court good luck, and I hope you have a year filled with events and literacy programs that help you grow as a person, and help the youth of Albany grow to be successful young men and women. 

Thank you for everything Albany!


Posted by: Nicole Branchini, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday April 24, 2013


Hello Albany!

As I reflect upon my year as an Albany Tulip Court member, there have been so many fun memories I will take away from this experience. I have been able to participate in a number of experiences and feel as if I have contributed to the betterment of the Albany community. I have established new relationships with people across the community and will never forget the memories I have made. I could have not had such a wonderful experience had it not been for the girls serving as ambassadors to the City of Albany with me. Emily Finnegan has been an inspirational leader to us and has paved the way for future Tulips to follow in her footsteps. Nicole, Jillian, and Millie have also made tremendous contributions to the success of this year. 

Looking back, one of the most memorable experiences has been, without a doubt, initiating out literacy campaigns. For Traveling Tulips, I have witnessed the students from area elementary schools grow and learn. It was so rewarding for me to see their progress from the beginning of the year until now. I remember the first time Tammy Tulip visited Albany School of Humanities, the students would write wonderful paragraphs describing her travels. At the final visit, the students were writing full pages and eager to share their passages! It was very rewarding for me as a Tulip Court member to see their excitement and love for the program.

I also enjoyed working with Coleen Paratore and implementing our Read, Write, Dream, Speak program. Her passion for her work has been an inspiration. When we visited the Albany Boys and Girls Club, I remember her talking about all of the libraries the students had access to. I could tell they were inspired to read more and that they had so many resources at their disposal. It was great seeing Mayor Jennings attend one of our programs. He got to hear what the students were working on over the course of the month. The kids got to become Deputy Mayors for the day, and they shared what they would change about the city. The kids spoke confidently and were excited because they felt as if they were making a difference in their community.

The end of my reign as a 2012 Tulip Court member is bittersweet. I have enjoyed all of the events and programs we have been a part of as well as meeting so many wonderful people in the community. I am excited to graduate with my Masters in Communications from the University at Albany in May. I look forward to new opportunities that come my way, but I will always be grateful for all the people who have helped make this year such a success. Thank you, and best of luck to the 2013 Tulip Queen and Court. I know you will do wonderful things and make a positive difference in the City of Albany. 

Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Friday April 12, 2013


It’s almost that time again…

It’s hard to believe, but the 2013 Tulip Festival is right around the corner! Ah! This month we are working hard to create the final product for our Traveling Tulips program, a compiled journal of each of our Traveling Tulip’s adventures throughout Albany. At the end of the month we will be presenting Tommy, Tammi, Trevor, and Tamara’s journals to the four schools we have been working with all year. I truly can’t wait to bring the four stories full circle and reflect on all of the wonderful work of the students this year.

As Jillian mentioned, we had the honor of having Mayor Jennings attend our most recent “Read, Write, Dream, Speak” program at the Boys and Girls Club. He encouraged them all, as Junior Deputy Mayors, to serve as the eyes and ears of the community and inform adults about any concerns or questions they may have.  Just like with the Traveling Tulips, it was so fantastic to see this program come full circle by allowing the students to voice their concerns directly to the Mayor. This month we will be running our final “Read, Write, Dream, Speak” program at the Brighter Choice Middle School for Girls, and I’m excited to hear what these ladies have to say!

As we look ahead to the coming weeks, I encourage you all to check out the Albany Special Events website for details about the great food, music, and crafts at this year’s Tulip Festival. I’ve been checking on our tulips regularly at Washington Park, and they haven’t popped up yet, thank goodness! Hopefully the weather gives us some beautiful blossoms this year, including our very own Tulip Queen bed we planted in October.

 In the mean time, get outside and enjoy that beautiful sunshine Albany!

Posted by: Jillian LeFevre, 2012 Tulip Court

Thursday March 28, 2013


Happy Spring, Albany!!!

I am so glad the weather is warming up, and Tulip Festival is right around the corner.  It is extremely exciting to think that the new Court will be announced soon, and everyone will be at Washington Park to see our bed of tulips we planted!


Although our year is almost over, it is very rewarding to look back and see what we have accomplished.  We recently finished our Read, Write, Dream, Speak program at the Boys and Girls Club in Albany.  The children were so excited when Mayor Jennings and author Coleen Paratore showed up to hear the "Powerful Paragraphs" they each wrote.  Both Mayor Jennings and Coleen spoke with the kids about being leaders and dreaming big.  It was great to see such enthusiasm from the kids about reading, writing, and doing what is best for those around them and their community.  Their paragraphs showed how aware they are of what is going on in our communities and gives us hope that they will help make our communities better. 


As much as Emily, Millie, Nikki, Nicole and I love our literacy programs, we also love attending the other events we get invited to.  For the St. Patrick’s Day Parade we were invited to ride in a 1980 Mercedes convertible.  I must say that this was in the top 5 of my favorite events we have done this year.  It was amazing to see how many people showed up to line the streets of Albany and cheer on everyone that participated in the parade.  I know we all had fun wearing green, greeting everyone, and taking pictures with the spectators- we will miss being in the parade next year!


I hope everyone is as excited as I am that Spring is here, and I hope that you all have a wonderful Easter!


Posted by: Nicole Dama, 2012 Tulip Court

Monday March 11, 2013


Hello, Albany!

It may not look like it outside at this very moment, but spring is almost here! I am so excited for it to start being warm and to ride my bicycle! This spring is a little bittersweet for me. With the new spring brings in new tulips, and new tulips means a new Court! The end is near, but we are still working as hard as ever for the remainder of our reign. Actually, we just finished our final Traveling Tulips program at Sheridan Prep Academy. We will be returning for a wrap up session in April with a completed Traveling Tulips Journal. Their journal will showcase how Tina Tulip traveled all over Albany County; to the Albany School of Humanities, A.W Becker Elementary and to two classrooms at Eagle Point Elementary. I will definitely miss Mrs. Maioriello’s class at SPA though. I was in charge of their journal, and they had such enthusiasm and excitement with every visit!


Besides our events, I have been applying for graduate school (fingers crossed) and clowning around - and I don’t mean that metaphorically. I literally have been clowning around. No joke. You may have actually seen me if you were at the Hannaford’s Kid’s Expo on March 2nd. My roommate Cara and I dressed up in full clown costume and makeup and made balloon animals, hats, swords and flowers throughout the day. We were “ CoCo & RaRa.” It was an awesome opportunity which I can actually thank my Tulip Court experience for. One of the members of the Tulip Queen & Court Selection committee works for the Office of General Services in the Empire Plaza. He remembered me talking about a clown class I had taken while at The College of Saint Rose. This class was very hands-on and certainly was beneficial to me in learning about face painting and working with kids. It was so much FUN! Seeing all those smiling faces made it all worth it. My roommate and I even helped out with the Tulip Queen’s face painting station when we ran out of the 400 balloons we had brought. It was a day I will never forget.


I am excited for the time we have left together to work on our literacy programs and to participate in my first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Albany. See you there!


Until next time!


Posted by: Millie Condon, 2012 Tulip Court

Thursday February 28, 2013


Hi Albany!

These past few months have gone by so quickly.  We've been working hard with our Traveling Tulips program, and I really feel like the students are learning a lot about literacy.  I have felt so privileged to be a role model to the children we have worked with.

Looking ahead, I am so excited to have our Read, Write, Dream, Speak program at the Albany Boys and Girls Club in March!  I work very closely with the students who attend the Club, and this program will give them a voice that they rarely get to use.  I'm sure they will come up with very important issues to address from their daily lives when they have the opportunity to write their "powerful paragraphs" explaining what they would do if they were Deputy Mayor for the Day.

I am also looking forward to the St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 16th!  As an Irish girl, I have attended the parade every year since I can remember, and it will be amazing to actually be in it!  I hope to see you all there, Albany!

Posted by: Nicole Branchini, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday February 13, 2013


This year is just flying by!

I hope everyone is enjoying this winter weather as much as I am. I love being outside and playing in the snow. As I reflect a little about how our year has gone so far, promoting our literacy campaign has been a rewarding experience. I enjoy interacting with new students from  so many elementary schools in the  Capital  District. This past week we visited  Mrs. Armstrong's class at Eagle Point Elementary school. The students enjoyed writing and discussing what activities Tina Tulip participated in the month of February. It was nice to hear how the students would like her to celebrate Valentine’s Day by being kind to others. They even said that Tina Tulip would bake a cake for Mrs. Armstrong!

I’ve also enjoyed working with the four other wonderful young ladies this year. Emily, Nicole, Jillian, and Millie have been a pleasure to work with ,  and I find it exciting when we see some of our goals for this year being accomplished. I look forward to the upcoming events we will be attending  such as the Literacy Night at AW Becker, a reading event at Barnes and Noble in Colonie Center, and the St. Patrick's Day Parade - but most notably participating in our Read, Write, Dream, Speak program at the Boys and Girls Club! I hope to see you at some of our eventsStay warmAlbany!


-Nikki Branchini

Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Friday February 1, 2013


Happy New Year, Albany!

I can’t believe we’re at the half way point of the year, what a whirlwind it has been. For those of you that haven’t seen our Winter Newsletter, I urge you to check it out and see all of the wonderful things we’ve been up to. Reflecting on this year so far, I’m extremely proud of the progress of our literacy programs. For me, “Read, Write, Dream, Speak” in particular has been very eye-opening as it provides the students an opportunity to voice the issues that they share in their communities, at home, and in school. In the writing portion of the workshop, we ask the students to address the “who, what, why, and how” of the problems that they would like to see changed. “Why is this issue important?” we ask, and “Who do you need to help you solve it? How will you do it?” Engaging the students in this type of critical thinking and hearing their creative and concerned responses truly excites me to think about their futures as leaders in the community, state, and maybe even as leaders of the nation. I’m excited to continue this program into the spring along with our “Traveling Tulips” who will soon be making it back to their home schools with a journal full of adventures.

As we head into the second half of the year, look out for my Court and I at many of the exciting spring holidays and festivals. Our first will be the Kids Expo at the Convention Center coming in early March and we hope to see you there! And of course, if you haven’t already heard, Tulip Queen nominations are open! I know there are some brilliant young women out there who would serve this city well, but it all starts with your nomination! Please check out the main page of our website for more details. And stay warm out there!

Posted by: Jillian LeFevre, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday January 16, 2013


Wow, this year is really flying by! I cannot believe we are half way through January already. I am definitely ready for spring though, it will be nice to be able to go outside and enjoy some warm weather without snow on the ground.
Between going to Tulip events and working full time we have been very busy! As some of you may remember, I work at Oldcastle Precast in Selkirk, as an Administrative and Accounting Assistant, although my passion is marketing. Oldcastle has decided to help me pursue my goals and had me start up a monthly newsletter for our employees. The Regional COO of Oldcastle was so pleased with my monthly newsletter that she asked me to start up a quarterly newsletter that goes out to our customers. Although this time of year has been busy, I am thankful for this opportunity to start doing marketing for Oldcastle, as I am still thankful for my chance to be on the Tulip Court.
While taking on this new project at work, I am relieved to be able to take some time away from my desk and visit schools for our literacy programs. I was excited that my elementary school, A. W. Becker, decided to participate in the Traveling Tulip Program. The kids loved reading Flat Stanley and writing journal entries about the holidays and winter. It was amazing to see how motivated the children were and how much they wanted to write about their Tulip, who they named “Trevor”. Emily, Millie, Nikki, Nicole and I love working with the children and seeing how we influence their lives and how we motivate them. Our literacy programs are designed to encourage reading and improve writing, all while building confidence. It will be really exciting to see how those we have worked with have improved through Read, Write, Dream, Speak and Traveling Tulips when our reign comes to an end.
Waiting on Spring,

Posted by: Nicole Dama, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday January 9, 2013


Happy New Year!

2012 went so fast, didn’t it? It was an incredible year. I accomplished so much at The College of Saint Rose and then graduated.  I also became part of the Tulip Court. Though it has been almost eight months, it feels like we have just begun and there is a long road ahead of us.  I’m sad already, but in these next few months I want to do as much as I can to take advantage of this great opportunity before me.
Our two literacy programs, Read, Write, Dream, Speak and Traveling Tulips give us a lot of time to talk with the students we work with. I have to say that these conversations have been enlightening to be a part of. The students' exuberant, incredible energy makes you want to do more for the world. They ask us all sorts of questions about what we do. We have even been asked if we live in a castle (my personal favorite question). Hearing all of the students converse so wholeheartedly has made me rethink why I want a certain career. Kids are so upfront and honest and it’s refreshing to hear them. They know what’s going on in the world and aren’t afraid to discuss it. We have talked about bullying, violence, environmental issues, and even college. These students are incredibly dialed in. Having the students bring up such big issues was something unexpected but surprisingly great. As we are helping them spell and put sentences together they are teaching us never to assume children don’t know about what’s going on around them.
Aside from going to our events, I am working, but want to continue my education and possibly work in college administration or for a non-profit organization. I’m looking into some local graduate programs for the fall. This year is influencing me to always give back somehow. It makes me incredibly happy to see others grow from the work we have done, and I want to do this kind of work for the rest of my life.
Nicole Dama, 2012 Tulip Court

Posted by: Millie Condon, 2012 Tulip Court

Monday December 24, 2012


Happy Holidays Everyone!

The holiday season is among us all and I'm so excited to be spending this one with all the lovely ladies of the 2012- 2013  Tulip  Court.  I have some very exciting plans to travel to France this holiday season and I look forward to experiencing different holiday cultural experiences.  However, I have certainly not missed out on any of Albany's traditions for the holidays!  Just recently, the  Court and I had the honor of taking part in the tree lighting ceremony at City Hall.  It was so special to see the magic of the holidays twinkling in the eyes of Albany's youth as they flipped the large switch to light the tree.  Keep an eye out for the tulip court holiday card that we broke out our "ugly Christmas sweaters" for!

Even though we've all had the holidays on our minds, this has not held us back from all of our hard work with our two literacy campaigns.  Traveling Tulips has been a huge success. The children of our different Albany schools love to hear what the other elementary schools have come up with on different topics of the month.  This allows for them to get their creative juices flowing and come up with their very own special journals which not only allows them to have a blast, but also practice their writing and reading skills as well!  Our other literacy campaign, Read, Write, Dream, Speak has been such an amazing experience for so many reasons.  We've had the honor of working closely with local author, Coleen Paratore to discuss important social justice topics in the community.  It has been incredibly touching to hear the issues of our community from the point of view of children.  The passion in the voices of the children as they spoke their minds asking the  Mayor for help was clear, and I definitely predict some future mayors and legislators coming from the classrooms we've visited!  I look forward to expanding this program to several other Albany schools in the future.

In the wake of the tragedy that has recently touched the town of Newton Connecticut, the Albany Tulip Court would like to offer our thoughts and prayers to all those affected.  It has certainly made us even more passionate and devoted in working and empowering  the precious youth of Albany. 
Millie Condon

Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Wednesday December 19, 2012


Albany Tulip Queen Emily Finnegan places first in Last Run 5K

City of Albany Office of Special Events & Volunteer Services

City Hall, Room 402

Albany, New York 12207

518.434.2032 / fax: 518.426.0759



DATE:              December 19, 2012

CONTACT:      Jason Bonafide, Public Relations Coordinator
               / 518.434.5417 

Albany Tulip Queen Emily Finnegan places first in Last Run 5K

Albany, New York – 2012 Albany Tulip Queen Emily Finnegan placed first among female runners in the 16th Annual Last Run 5K this weekend. She shares the top spot with first place male runner Anthony Giuliano, who celebrates his second Last Run win in a row.   

The 5K win is just the latest accomplishment for 21-year-old Tulip Queen Emily Finnegan.  In addition to constant community involvement in the Albany Tulip Court, The University of Albany senior’s volunteer work includes educating children in India and participating in a Habitat for Humanity project in Guatemala. In her time as Tulip Queen, Emily has worked with Albany schools facilitating her two literacy programs: Read, Write, Dream, Speak and Traveling Tulips.

The Albany Tulip Queen and Court spend the full year of their reign devoted to Albany community projects, with a special focus on instituting programs as part of the Mayor Jennings Literacy Campaign.

For more details on the 2012 Albany Tulip Queen & Court, please visit

The Last Run is presented annually by Mayor Jerry Jennings, the City of Albany and St. Peter’s Cardiac & Vascular Center. Limited to 1500 runners, this year’s race sold out in record time. 

Full results for the 2012 Last Run 5K can be viewed here:

Albany’s Last Run 5K was sponsored by Mayor Jerry Jennings, the City of Albany, St. Peter’s Cardiac & Vascular Center, Bank of America, CDPHP, the New York State Office of General Services, Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services, Price Chopper, Panera Bread, Fly 92.3, B95.5, Radio Disney, News Channel 13, Times Union & Metroland.

Posted by: Nicole Branchini, 2012 Tulip Court

Tuesday December 4, 2012


Hello Albany!

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I enjoyed spending time with my friends and family, I certainly have a lot to be thankful for. Since my last post we have participated in a number of fun events around the City of Albany.
We have kicked off our literacy campaign this past month at the Albany School of Humanities! Our Traveling Tulips campaign went well as we interacted with the second grade students at the Albany School for  Humanities. We talked about our favorite activities that our traveling tulip, Tammy, participated in this fall. The students described how they enjoyed playing outside with friends, going to the pumpkin patch on a school trip, and their favorite Thanksgiving foods. We can't wait to return to the classroom to see what Tammy Tulip has in store for the month of December.

Another event that I participated in this past month was being a community visitor to the Delaware Community School. I was a guest for the month of November where I was asked to speak about citizenship. The students were very enthusiastic and excited to talk about how they participate in the community. They described that being a good citizen to them meant being a good neighbor and friend, volunteering, and working hard. The students even contributed to the community by planting hundreds of tulip bulbs around their school. It was exciting to see their pride and excitement that they had about their accomplishments. I truly enjoyed speaking at the Delaware Community School.

Looking forward, I am excited to attend the City of Albany's annual tree lighting ceremony! The City of Albany is a great place to be during the holiday season. There are so many fun activities to take part in. Personally, I enjoy ice skating with friends at the Plaza. I wish everyone a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!

-Nikki Branchini

Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Monday November 26, 2012


Happy Fall Albany!

We did it! After months of planning and coordinating with administrators and teachers we have officially kick started not one but two literacy programs! Woo hoo!
Our first program, “Traveling Tulips” kicked off at the Albany School of Humanities last week with Mrs. Donohue’s second grade classroom. We began by reading a portion of Jeff Brown’s Flat Stanley, which tells the story of a boy who has been flattened by a bulletin board and with his new figure he travels the world through mailed envelopes. We then introduced the class to their very own “flat” character, Tammy Tulip, who will travel throughout Albany schools to share ASH’s adventures with other second grade classrooms. Breaking the students up into groups, we next had each group write one page for Tammy’s first chapter of her journal. This month, our chapter focused mostly on autumn and Thanksgiving, and boy did we receive a lot of interesting journal entries! My personal favorite was from one student who was sharing his favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Some items that made his list: chicken noodle soup, a bologna sandwich, cotton candy and lobster! Sounds like quite the Thanksgiving dinner to me.
Along with Mrs. Donohue’s class at ASH, our Traveling Tulips program includes Mrs. Wolfe’s classroom at A.W. Becker, Mrs. Maioriello’s classroom at Sheridan Prep, and Mrs. Armstrong/Mrs. Shelmerdine’s classrooms at Eagle Point Elementary. By the end of the year, we hope to have a journal documenting each Traveling Tulip’s adventures throughout Albany County which we can turn into a nice gift for each of our participating classrooms at the end of the year.
Our second program, “Read, Write, Dream, Speak,” kicked off at Eagle Point Elementary last week in Mrs. Coles’ sixth grade classroom. Working with local author Coleen Paratore, this program is based off of her book Sunny Holiday, which tells the story of a girl who stands up for her community to ensure her mayor keeps his promises to build a new playground. In a three-part workshop, our first portion last week covered the important qualities of a great leader. Using the characters from the book, the students highlighted what traits these characters had that made them strong leaders as well as what obstacles Sunny had to overcome to achieve her goals. We also heard from the students about how they demonstrate their leadership in the classroom and we shared how we lead in our community. In the second workshop this week, we will ask the students to put their thinking caps on and brainstorm some ideas of things that they would love to see in their community if they were mayor for the day. In one “Powerful Paragraph,” we will have the students write and edit their proposals, which we will collect for the final workshop in the last week of November. In this third workshop, we will hold a grand “Mayor’s Press Conference” where each student will have the opportunity to share his or her ideas in front of an audience that includes none other than author Coleen Paratore! After the readings, Coleen will meet with the students and sign each of their copies as a souvenir from the program.
And of course, this would not be possible without the kind donations of Capital Communications Federal Credit Union supporting our “Read, Write, Dream, Speak” program! With their help, we were able to purchase enough books so that each student can keep their very own Sunny Holiday at the end of the program.
On top of our literacy programs, we have also been busy participating in events throughout the Albany community. Whether it was planting tulips in Washington Park, attending the Annual Dutch Settlers Tea or helping to kick off the Albany Fund for Education’s “Big Read” last week, we have certainly been busy Tulips! I’m extremely proud of my Court for all of the work that we’ve done this fall. Balancing Tulip life, family, work, and school can sometimes be a little overwhelming but I think these girls have done a marvelous job so hats off to them!
And as Jillian said, we’re in for a chilly one this winter so stay bundled up Albany! Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving (and a lucky Black Friday!) and see you all at the 16th Annual Last Run 5K in December!

Posted by: Jillian LeFevre, 2012 Tulip Court

Tuesday November 13, 2012


Hi Everyone!

As we start off the month of November, we see that the leaves have fallen and it is starting to get colder. I hope that everyone is preparing for winter, I have heard it is going to be a cold one with lots of snow! 

As winter begins we also prepare for the holidays. I cannot wait for Thanksgiving- we all have so much to be thankful for. That being said, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by Sandy. 

Moving forward, I know we are all very excited to start our literacy programs. I am extremely happy to work with the children, as we all have had so much fun with them at other events. As Nicole mentioned, we had a great time at the Jazzy Sun Birthday Party where we did face painting, played tag in the courtyard, and of course, ate lots of cake! 

As we start our programs, we are also excited to announce that we have made Tulip Court history!  All five of us had the pleasure of working with Jessica Morgan and her crew on October 27th in Washington Park where they had prepared a bed for us to plant tulips in.  This is the first time the Tulip Court has ever planted their own bed of tulips. We are so grateful for this opportunity Jessica gave us and we hope that everyone comes out this spring for the reveal of our tulip bed and the design we planted! 

Again, we hope that everyone stays warm with the cold weather fast approaching and we cannot wait to tell you all about our other events and programs. Remember, there is always something to be thankful for! 

Waiting for Thanksgiving Dinner,

Posted by: Nicole Dama, 2012 Tulip Court

Friday October 19, 2012


Happy Fall Everyone!

I just LOVE this time of year. I love the changing leaves, apple picking, pumpkin carving and most of all - fall clothes. I’m breaking out the scarves and sweaters as we speak.
In the past few months the weather has been cooling down, but our events season is heating up! I have boogied at the Volunteer Appreciation Party, judged the LEGO Building Challenge, lent a hand a with Jazzy Sun Birthday Parties and painted more faces than I can remember! I especially enjoyed Hispanic Heritage Fest at the Egg where I met a little girl who was the sweetest! Even more cool, was that I was able to communicate with her using sign language. I took a class 2 years ago at The College of Saint Rose and didn’t think I remembered all the signs but some of it must have stuck.  It warms my heart to have been able to communicate with this little girl who honestly looked terrified that I was painting something terrible on her face.  She really liked what I had painted too-a full face butterfly! Moments like this make me proud to be Tulip and so happy that we bring smiles to someone’s day.
Though we have been busy off and on throughout the last few weeks I have found that at our events we are so energized by the enthusiasm and excitement of all the people we meet. Thank you to everyone who has come by to meet us or even asked for our help!  I’m excited for the rest of 2012 and I hope we get to meet even more of you!  
And on a side note-I’m excited that Hockey season has returned!
Until next time!
My salutations,

Nicole Dama

Posted by: Nicole Branchini, 2012 Tulip Court

Monday October 1, 2012


Hello Everyone!

Since my last blog we have attended some really fun and exciting events. I enjoyed meeting a lot of you and can’t wait to meet new people as the year continues. One thing that has been exciting for me is the change of seasons and the beginning of fall. I love seeing the changing leaves  and picking apples!
Some of the most memorable events that we have participated in this fall would have to be the Volunteer Appreciation Party which was held at the Washington Park Lake House. This event was very special because it recognized all of the hard work and long hours that the people of Albany put in to making the special events such as Alive at Five possible. I truly enjoyed meeting and connecting with the people who attended the party. We were dancing and taking funny pictures all evening.
The Tulip Girls and I also participated in the Jazzy Sun Birthday Party which we helped throw a birthday party for the children living at the Marrilac Shelter. It was fun decorating the room in Spiderman and Princess themes. The kids really enjoyed getting their faces painted and playing outside! I look forward to going back there next month to help with the October birthdays.
As for myself I am enjoying the beginning of school and watching my favorite NFL team, the NY Giants, destroy the competition! Go Eli Manning! Hope to see you all soon.
Nikki Branchini

Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Tuesday September 11, 2012


The End of Summer!

Happy Labor Day Albany! I truly can’t believe it’s been four months since Tulip Festival. As summer comes to a close, the girls and I certainly have many wonderful memories to look back on. Albany’s Alive at Five series was one of the best yet, and I have to give a special thanks to all the volunteers who helped coordinate such fantastic concerts. Another big thank you goes out to all the volunteers who served lunch and danced the day away during our Senior Sunday’s. After some serious swing dancing lessons from a few seniors, I can now proudly say that I have mastered the three-step and the six-step… all you local swing dancers, watch out!

Although the summer’s ending, I’m very excited for the start of the school year. As Albany children return to school, I can’t wait to get into the classrooms and begin our two main literacy programs, “Traveling Tulips” and “Tulips in Training.” “Traveling Tulips” focuses on a pen-pal journal writing program between Albany county schools with the hopes of fostering a greater sense of community among Albany children. In a series of character-building workshops, “Tulips in Training” aims to work with community leaders to teach the important skills necessary to being a positive role model. With the support of Capital Communications Foundation, we will also be working with local author Coleen Paratore on a special leadership development program entitled “Read, Write, Dream Speak.” Kicking off in October, you can expect to see us frequenting Albany county schools working on one of our various programs, so be on the lookout! Until then, enjoy the changing seasons!

Posted by: Jillian LeFevre, 2012 Tulip Court

Monday August 13, 2012


Hi Everyone!!!

I am Jillian LeFevre, the 5th member of the 2012 Albany Tulip
Court and am still thrilled to have been chosen as a Tulip Court member to
represent the City of Albany. We have started off our year with a lot of
great events and have already made many connections with the children and
adults we have worked with and we cannot wait to make more.

Over the past couple of months, the Tulip Court and I have had the honor of
attending many events and meeting so many dedicated and inspirational
members of our community. Speaking not only for myself, but for the entire
court, I am thrilled to say we have found that each event offers something
new and different and have all been extremely rewarding.

As the other girls have mentioned, we have attended several of the Alive at
5 concerts. Although it has been a very hot summer, we have managed to keep
cool by dancing and singing along to the bands, two of our favorite
activities. The Lee Brice concert was
by far my favorite. Emily, Nikki, and I had the amazing experience of being
able to stand on stage as Lee Brice performed, and obviously, we were
singing and dancing along the whole time.

The five of us were also excited to be invited to the "Planting Flowers,
Planting Hope" program with The Music Mobile. We got our hands dirty helping
the children plant flowers in pots which they were able to take home with
them to show to their communities the inspirational messages they wrote on
the pots. The purpose was to teach the children that "everyone can live
together in one pot." And of course, it would not be a true Tulip
Court event if we did not finish the night by singing songs written by the
members of The Music Mobile with the children.

Although I am sad the summer is almost over, I am very excited for this
fall. Emily, Nikki, Millie, Nicole, and I have been working very hard on our
literacy program that promotes Mayor Jennings Literacy Campaign. We cannot
wait to bring our programs to many of the schools in our county and to meet
and work with so many wonderful children. We are very thankful for the
support from everyone in the City of Albany and are excited to make a
difference in our community with you!

Posted by: Nicole Dama, 2012 Tulip Court

Wednesday August 1, 2012


Greetings Albany!

My name is Nicole Dama and I am a member of the 2012 Tulip Court. Being on the Tulip Court has been the most incredible experience so far. I have loved meeting so many new faces and helping out where we can at various events. We have had quite the summer! As I didn’t grow up in Albany, being on the Tulip Court has introduced me to so many new events around the city. Though it’s been only a few months, time has flown and we have gotten to know each other on the Court so well. I am so proud to be a part of a group of brilliant and hardworking young women.

My favorite events this summer have been helping out with the fashion show at Teresian House and Alive at 5. Teresian House was fun because it was our first event, and there was so much excitement from the participants and amongst the Court. I also have enjoyed getting to be a  part of Alive at 5! I had never been to one of the concerts before this year, and despite the heat, we have had a ball each time. It was a nice break to get to be inside at Smash Mouth this past week! Also, I have enjoyed events where we work the arts and crafts table.

Even though I just graduated from The College of Saint Rose in May, I am looking forward to “Back to school time,” so we can hit the ground running and start our programs to help enhance Mayor Jennings' literacy campaign. I can’t wait to meet even more of the great people who contribute to such an incredible city. Hope to see you all soon!

Posted by: Millie Condon, 2012 Tulip Court

Monday July 16, 2012


Hey, Albany!

I hope everyone is trying their best to stay cool in this hot weather! I know I’ve been having fun in the sun while outside with my fellow Tulip Court members at several amazing Albany events. My name is Millie Condon and so far being a Tulip Court member has definitely exceeded my expectations. Not only have I been able to attend several Albany events, I’ve been able to do them alongside four other lovely young ladies that I feel like I’ve been friends with forever.

Recently we had the privilege of being a part of a historical celebration called Juneteenth. This event was held right in Washington Park and it marked a huge milestone in the abolition of slavery. The ladies and I worked with kids to make pictures of what Juneteenth meant to them. Two pictures were chosen and awarded a signed copy of a children’s book from a local illustrator.

We’ve also been listening to some great musicians at Alive at 5! My personal favorite was The Bacon Brothers with The Stray dogs! The music was definitely worth being in the heat for. I look forward to the rest of the concert series! Speaking of performances, if you went out to Albany this 4th of July and saw some beautifully decorated faces, I’m pleased to say we were the ones who painted them!

The ladies and I have also been hard at work putting the finishing touches on the project we want to carry out this year for the Mayor Jennings’ Literacy Campaign. We look forward to all of Albany’s involvement in what we have planned!

Posted by: Nicole Branchini, 2012 Tulip Court

Tuesday July 3, 2012


Hello Albany!

I hope you are all enjoying this beautiful weather we have had for the beginning of summer, and I can only hope that it continues. My name is Nikki Branchini and I am serving on the 2012 Tulip Court. We have been traveling to many fun events so far this summer and it has been a pleasure meeting you all!

One of my favorite events was visiting the Kenwood Manor where we met the residents and joined in on their weekly BINGO night. They were an energetic group and even though I am the world’s worst BINGO player it was  fun to share stories with the men and women at the Kenwood Manor.

We also attended the 10th Annual Albany Father’s Day Concert at the Albany Riverfront Park. It was wonderful seeing the Army Command Band’s Tennessee River Ramblers & Brass Machine Band as well as the U.S.O Liberty Bells and the 94th Army Pop-Rock Band! I certainly enjoyed the music as well as the fireworks presentation that concluded the festivities.

We are also hard at work developing our ideas for promoting Mayor Jennings' Literacy Campaign and cannot wait to work with the wonderful children in our area.

Posted by: Emily Finnegan, 2012 Tulip Queen

Monday June 18, 2012


Happy Summer, Albany!

For those of you I haven’t met yet, my name is Emily Finnegan and I have the great honor of serving as your 2012 Tulip Queen!  I’m very much looking forward to working with my fabulous Court of Nikki Branchini, Millie Condon, Nicole Dama, and Jillian LeFevre to kick start our program for Mayor Jennings’ Literacy Campaign. A big congratulations goes out to Karen Colehour and her Court on a fantastic year, you ladies have certainly given us some big shoes to fill! The weeks leading up to Tulip Festival were no doubt stressful, but ones that I will never forget. Many thanks to Mayor Jennings, Tulip Festival Chairman Marcus Pryor, and all of the Tulip Selection Committee for your continuous encouragement and support, as well as a special thank you to the Office of Special Events for organizing an amazing weekend.

And what an exciting reign it has already been! Kicking off our first week, the Tulips were invited to Eagle Point Elementary for their Readers to Leaders Literacy Celebration. At the fairy tale-themed night, we had the opportunity to read the magical story of Cinderella while also speaking to children about what it means to be a leader in the community.  Later in the week, our Court had the privilege of escorting residents down the runway in the annual Teresian House fashion show.  With our models all dolled up in their blue eye shadows and pearls, I have to say it was one of my favorite events of the week. At Greek Festival we toured the beautiful St. Sophia's Greek Orthodox Church and sampled some of the best food I’ve ever tasted, all before heading to the Mendelssohn Club Concert that evening for a wonderful performance. And that was only the first week!

This summer is sure to be full of more exciting events. I encourage you all to come out every Thursday evening for free entertainment at the Alive at Five concerts, and don’t forget to stop by the Plaza for some awesome 4th of July celebrations. With beautiful weather and so many things to see and do, I hope you take advantage of the many events this city has to offer. We look forward to meeting you!

Posted by: Hannah Walker, 2011 Tulip Court

Thursday March 22, 2012


It's Springtime, Albany!

I hope all of you have been enjoying this unseasonably beautiful weather. I know I have been trying to savor every moment of it! The Tulip Court and I have been keeping busy and we are surprised by how quickly Spring and the 2012 Tulip Festival seem to be coming upon us. We've enjoyed several wonderful events lately, including a Lights Camera Literacy program at Veeder Elementary School.

Additionally, the Tulip Court and I were very blessed to have a warm and sunny Saturday as we rode in Albany's St. Patrick's Day Parade this past weekend. It was an honor to be asked to participate in one of Albany's annual traditions. I can still remember watching this parade as a child, sitting on the steps outside my family's church building and former home on lower Central Ave.

The turn out for the event was great and the crowds we passed had a lot of enthusiastic energy. It was a moment when Albany felt less like a city and more like a community. It's a memory I will truly treasure when I think back on this year on the Court.

Keep an eye out for us as Spring gets into full swing. This week we will be hosting a Q&A session at Albany High School among other upcoming events.

By the way, if you know any remarkable, outgoing, and dedicated young women, nominate them to be part of the 2012 Albany Tulip Queen and Court!  It's not too late, nominations close April 2nd. More information on nominations is available here,

Posted by: Kelly Landers, 2011 Tulip Court

Monday February 27, 2012


February’s Almost Over Albany!

As February comes to a close we are realizing how soon our year is also going to be coming to a close!  This month we continued our Lights Camera Literacy at the Albany Boys and Girls Club.  It was a really fun Friday afternoon!  One of my favorite parts of this past LCL was our conversation we had with the kids about what literacy means which then appropriately lead to reading.  I was thrilled to hear from a number of kids about how they genuinely love to read.  Lights Camera Literacy isn't just about motivating students into reading that maybe don't regularly like to read, it's also about expanding the range of way kids read who already love reading!  I can't wait to see what our next LCL at Veeder Elementary School will bring this March!

Along with another LCL event, March bring new events that we are looking forward to.  We will be reading to the Albany Community Charter School for Read Across America Day, face painting at the Hannaford Kidz Expo, and marching in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Albany.  When I was younger my family would go see the parade together to celebrate our Irish heritage as well as watch my uncle march.  I'm excited to be a part of the parade myself this year and have my family come to watch me! 

Even though our winter hasn't been that bad, stay warm Albany! Spring will be here before we know it!

Posted by: Katie Headd, 2011 Tulip Court

Thursday February 9, 2012


Happy February Albany!

This month Kelly, Karen, Marjorie, Hannah and I will be working with the Boys and Girls Club of Albany to present our "Lights, Camera, Literacy" program. We are heading toward at least doubling our original goal of reaching 150 children with our literacy program. Working to serve the Mayor Jennings Literacy Campaign has been one of the most rewarding pieces of the Tulip Queen and Court position. We have really enjoyed interacting with such diverse groups of children and seeing all the creative ideas that they have come up with. Often we dress up in costumes right along with the children and I think we have just as much fun as the kids.

It seems crazy how quickly time has been flying by. I will never forget when, about a year ago, my former boss and former tulip court member, Aimee Gould told me she was nominating me for the 2011 Albany Tulip Queen and Court. I was so honored and excited. I am proud to have followed in her footsteps! Please consider nominating a young woman who has strong leadership abilities and a love for community service. I will forever be grateful to Aimee for nominating me and introducing me to this great opportunity. Head to and give the same opportunity to another hard working, dedicated and passionate young woman!

Posted by: Marjorie Adriance, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday January 31, 2012


Brrrrrr....It's Cold Outside!

This is the warmest winter I can remember, day after day of above average temperatures....until the day that we participated in the Martin Luther King celebration at the Convention Center.  It was by far the coldest day of the winter so far!  But what a privilege to participate in an event that celebrated the birthday of a man that "had a dream" and made a difference in the lives of so many.  We enjoyed the events in the Convention Center, including a kid's corner, and then led a parade several blocks through the city.

We also had fun participating in the 2012 Ronald McDonald House Charities Radiothon at Crossgates Mall.  Ronald McDonald House Charities promotes the health, development and well being of children and their families through the Ronald McDonald House, a home away from home for families of seriously ill children, and by creating and supporting programs that directly improve the lives of children and their families.  We sold tickets at "Autograph Alley" where for a donation folks could meet NFL Legends Rodney Hampton and Mark Clayton, WWE legend Tito Santana and NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver David Reutimann.

Coming up next we will be taking LCL on the road to the Boys and Girl's Club and meeting with students at Albany High School.

It's hard to believe that our time serving Albany is winding down.  It's time to nominate deserving young women for the honor of serving as the 2012 Albany Tulip Queen and Court.  Do you know someone that would be a great ambassador for the City of Albany and the Mayor Jerry Jennings' Literacy Campaign?  If so, follow this link,, to nominate her!


Posted by: Karen Colehour, 2011 Tulip Queen

Wednesday January 18, 2012


Happy 2012 Albany!

Although it appears that our mild winter has come to an end, the New Year and the first snow fall of 2012 brings us as the TQ and Court a flourish of new events, new programs, and new ambitions.  

The last few weeks have been nothing short of spectacular.  We were excited and honored to begin 2012 with bringing our "Lights, Camera, Literacy" program to three 2nd grade classrooms at Berne-Knox-Westerlo Elementary School.  We read "Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst and the students ultimately created their own story by working in small groups and performing skits demonstrating different ways a day could turn out to be a challenging one.  We were incredibly pleased and proud that the students got involved in the story, were passionate and energetic during the program, and showed their understanding of literary terms and elements.  The skits were creative, fun, and entertaining and the students particularly enjoyed dressing up in costumes and using their imagination.  Look for pictures in our gallery coming soon!

Realizing that our reign will eventually come to an end, we wanted to be sure to make the most of this honorable experience. Thus, we have decided as the Queen and Court to continue our "Lights, Camera, Literacy" program to enhance the Mayor's Literacy Campaign at diverse locations in the remaining months, initiate a new program titled "Q and A with the TQ and Court," and plan a fundraiser for the Tulip Fund.  More information on the latter two will come in future blogs; something to look forward to!

Thank you immensely for your continued support.  Along with continuing to visit, please note that nominations for the 2012 Albany Tulip Queen and Court are now open.  If you know any remarkable, outgoing, and dedicated young women, nominate them!  More information on nominations is available here,

Posted by: Hannah Walker, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday January 10, 2012


Happy New Year Albany

I hope all of you had a wonderful, safe and enjoyable holiday season. I must say this has been of the most enjoyable seasons I can remember. Not only did I get to participate in my normal Christmas activities, such as family gatherings, parties at friends houses, singing in Christmas eve choir and eating lots of goodies, but I was also able to be a part of some of Albany's holiday events that I had never attended before. I loved being a part of City Hall's Christmas tree lighting ceremony and having fun with kids at the Empire State Plaza's tree lighting event. I hope all of you were able to take a little time to participate is some of the City's holiday cheer!

As 2011 comes to close, it's hard believe that the Tulip Festival is only five months away. While things have gone fast, we've also accomplished a lot in the time that has passed. In the past nine months the Court and I went from being complete strangers, to becoming friends and coworkers. We've gotten to partner with numerous organizations within Albany, attend many fun, challenging and enlightening events and create our own campaign to enhance literacy throughout Albany. We've learned a lot about team work and have made many new friends. I know all of us are extremely thankful for the opportunities we've been given throughout the year.

With the new year getting into full swing I also want to encourage each of you to find some time to consider nominating a young woman you know for the 2012 Tulip Court. New Years is normally a time to reflect on the past year, and I can say with confidence that being a member of the Court has really helped me grow, mature, and expand my horizons over the past year. If you know a young woman with leadership skills, who also has a love for community and service, consider nominating submitting a nomination for her at: You can find all the specific qualifications on the website and a brief description of the selection process. I know I will be forever grateful for this year of service and hope that many young women for generations to come will continue to benefit from this amazing experience.

Posted by: Kelly Landers, 2011 Tulip Court

Friday December 16, 2011


Happy Holidays Albany!

I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season!  I know I sure am, thanks to all the different festive events Albany has to offer.  All five of us were at the Holiday Celebration at the Empire State Plaza making ornaments and coloring holiday pictures with children.  That was a great day in the beginning of December that really got me into the holiday spirit.  We also had a great time at the Holiday Tree Lighting at City Hall.  I really enjoyed all of the children coming up with the mayor to light the tree, which looked so beautiful.   Everyone should go down to city hall and check out the tree and decorations and then head over to the Capital Holiday Lights in Washington Park.  The lights are great this year and the lake house looked so beautiful all light up.  When I saw it I couldn't believe how much time has passed since May when spring was just settling in and we were just starting our year!

Besides our different holiday activities, we've been continuing to implement our "Lights, Camera, Literacy" program.  This past month we went to Eagle Point Elementary School and held two programs after school.  It was especially fun for me because this past semester I've was helping out in a first grade classroom there and about half of the students came to our program.  We had some very creative costumes that the students dressed up in and overall it was a good afternoon of reading and fun.

We are planning to continue this program all over Albany to try and reach as many kids as we can!  We hope that everyone has a safe, healthy, and happy holiday and a wonderful New Year!  

Posted by: Katie Headd, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday November 29, 2011


Happy Holidays Albany!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I am excited about the upcoming holiday celebrations we will be a part of, especially the holiday tree lighting at Empire State Plaza on December 4th. My personal favorite part of the holiday season is driving through Capital Holiday Lights in the Park with friends.

I would like to personally thank the Dutch Settlers Society of Albany for welcoming Karen, Hannah and I at their annual membership tea. We felt honored to be among a group of people that celebrate the Dutch heritage that is a rich part of the Albany Tulip Festival. Also, we enjoyed the lovely company of the members as we shared tea and cookies and they told stories about their travels through the Netherlands.

As our year as the 2011 Tulip Queen and Court flies by we still have many ideas about programs we hope to implement this year. Make sure to keep an eye out for our many programs to come!

Posted by: Marjorie Adriance, 2011 Tulip Court

Friday November 18, 2011


Hello, Albany!

It is hard to believe that we are 6 months into year serving Albany on the Tulip Court!  It seems like just yesterday that we stood on the stage in Washington Park.

As Karen mentioned in her blog, “Lights, Camera, Literacy!” is in full swing.  In addition to meeting with the children at Albany Academy, we will be presenting our program with children in the afterschool program at Eagle Point Elementary School.   We are hoping that we will be able to extend this program to other schools and youth programs over the coming months.

With the holidays fast approaching we will be attending several events, including the Holiday Tree Lighting event at the Empire State Plaza.  We are also looking forward to participating in the Albany Academies Book Fair at Barnes and Noble next month.

We would like to take a moment to let you know that we are thankful for your support and for the opportunities that we have had to be a part of the Albany community.  We wish for all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!  Don't eat too much!

Posted by: Karen Colehour, 2011 Tulip Queen

Monday October 31, 2011


Hello Albany!

As autumn winds down and the first (extremely early) snowflakes fall, we continue to stay active and busy in Albany County.  "Lights, Camera, Literacy" is now in full swing; we have proudly initiated the program at various and numerous locations throughout the last several months and will continue to in the coming months.  Just recently, "Lights, Camera, Literacy" was conducted with 5th graders at Albany Academy.  Although all of the programs have been successful, engaging, and fun, the program with the 5th graders was particularly remarkable.   The book of choice was "Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst about a young boy who encounters difficulties and obstacles throughout the course of his day.  Some troubles he endures are stepping in a puddle, going to the dentist and having a cavity, becoming the 3rd in line in the hierarchy of best friends, being scolded by his mom, and having to eat lima beans for dinner.  The 5th graders worked in small groups to create their own version of the story (i.e., what other events could round out a terrible day) and later acted out their entertaining skits with imaginative props and costumes.  They seemed to really enjoy all of the program components.

Outside of promoting literacy, we have continued to attend events in the City of Albany to help in any way that we can.  I had the privilege of being a judge on the Miss Festival of Nations panel; it was a special experience for me and I was very impressed by the young women of the Capital Region! At the Albany Devils game the other weekend, we collected new coats and winter items at the Mayor's Fall Drop Off and, of course, cheered on the Devils to a victory.  The approaching weekends for us involve attending the Family Fall Fest at the Reigning Life Church and the Festival of Nations at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.  We hope to see you at our upcoming events and please continue to visit our website and blog often!  In the meantime, stay warm and get your shovels out of the attic!



Posted by: Hannah Walker, 2011 Tulip Court

Wednesday October 19, 2011


Hello Again Albany!

With fall in full swing, the Court and I have been gradually settling into a new pace with school, internships and work. Unlike everyone else, I've been enjoying my first fall without the stresses of school and homework. However, with work, an internship and Court duties I've been far from bored. We've had a great season so far as we got our literacy program "Lights, Camera, Literacy" up and running. It's been thrilling to see our vision become a reality. We are looking forward to bringing our program to both the Albany Academies and Eagle Point Elementary in the near future. 

 Another highlight this fall was participating in the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk in Washington Park with Marjorie's mother. Mrs. Adriance is a survivor and a real inspiration and it was an honor to walk with her. The entire Court was able to join her team the "Princess Warriors" and we enjoyed the event despite the finicky weather. Thousands of people gathered together for the walk and it was awe-inspiring to be a part of such a large, vibrant crowd. At the end of the day it was felt great to have been able to be part of such an amazing event. It was a moment that made me thankful that the Tulip Court is about more than just activities; it's also about relationships.

Posted by: Kelly Landers, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday October 4, 2011


Hi again Albany!

Hope everyone has been enjoying the beginning of this school year.  We have been busy with a lot of great events and even more literacy!  This past Saturday we attended a Jazzy Sun Birthday Party at the Marillac Family Shelter for a two very special children.  We had lots of fun celebrating their birthdays with both Transformers and Dora the Explorer decorations, face painting, crafts, pizza, cake, and games.  It was a great afternoon and I can’t wait until next month when we will do it again!

This week we also went to Eagle Point Elementary School’s Family Literacy Night where we read the book Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matt McElligot to many of the students who came.  It was really neat for us to read that book, especially Hannah, because the author and illustrator, Matt McElligot, was actually Hannah’s illustration professor in college and she saw the prints of that book before it was published.   After we read the book we all made our own unique monsters with feathers, cut-outs, sequins, pipe-cleaners, and all that fun stuff.  The kids had a lot of fun and so did we, especially because we all shared ice cream from Stewart’s afterwards!

Last night, Thursday September 29th, we had our second “Lights, Camera, Literacy” program through the Mayor’s Literacy Campaign.   We had a great time with all of the children who attended.  The book Mrs. Brooks Loves Book! (And I Don’t)  by Barbara Bottner and Michael Emberley was a great book for dressing up!  As student’s figured out how to solve the main characters problem they turned into Willy Wonka, a bunny, Mickey Mouse, an investigator on vacation, and a teacher.  In the month of October we plan on implementing this program at the Albany Acadamies and Eagle Point Elementary School. 

Hope to see everyone at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at Washington Park on Sunday, October 16th!

Posted by: Katie Headd, 2011 Tulip Court

Wednesday September 21, 2011


Happy Fall!

I know it has not officially begun, but the weather has definitely decided that fall is here! With fall comes a whole new variety of events which we are all looking forward to! We have all started to adjust being beck into the swing of fall semester and are very busy but having fun too!

Thursday, September 15th was the first of our “Lights, Camera, Literacy” program through The Mayor Jennings Literacy Campaign. Although attendance was low we still had a lot of fun! Hannah was able to supply us with an extensive selection of costumes which included wigs and props which really added to the fun! We really enjoyed interacting and dressing up, as well as acting out the book The Queen’s Feet by Sarah Ellis. Hopefully more children can join us on September 29th from 7pm - 8pm at the Albany Main Library for a new book and more fun!

We would like to thank The City of Albany, Amica Insurance, Hannaford, The College of Saint Rose Curriculum Library, Finke Equipment, Mary Jane Books and The College of Saint Rose Student Association for supporting the event and helping to make it all possible. Thanks to these sponsors each child gets a goody bag after the program including a ruler, a pencil, a frisbee and a book.

Posted by: Marjorie Adriance, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday September 6, 2011


Hello, Albany!

Can you believe that it is September already?  Where did the summer go? We have been very busy – it has been fun to spend time with different organizations and make new friends.  Last week we helped with the backpack giveaway at the City Rescue Mission; it is very rewarding to spend time with Albany’s children – and it’s always an adventure!

September brings more events, and as Karen wrote about in her blog, the premiere of our program to promote the Mayor Gerry Jennings Literacy Campaign – “Lights, Camera, Literacy!”, on September 15th and 29th at 7:00 p.m. at the Albany Main Library in the Tulip Queen Reading Room.  We are so excited to begin this program with a goal to encourage and stimulate teamwork and creativity, and promote interest in and joy of reading.  The program is free and we welcome children of all ages, and encourage you to pre-register to solidify your child’s spot by calling the Main Library at 427-4300; however, walk-ins are also welcome!

We will also be at the Jazz Festival this Saturday, September 10th, the Hispanic Heritage Celebration on September 17th, and again this month helping St. Catherine's Center for Children host their monthly birthday party for children living in homeless shelters on September 24th.  We are looking forward to meeting more of you at these events!


Posted by: Karen Colehour, 2011 Tulip Queen

Tuesday August 23, 2011


Hello again Albany!


First of all, on behalf of my court, I’d like to thank you for visiting and for supporting us in the past, the present, and in the future.  Although it has already been 3 months since our reign began and we are more or less “used to” permanent smiles, painting faces for hours at a time, and wearing high heels for long periods, we are still extremely honored and privileged to be the 2011 Tulip Queen and Court. 

Despite summer vacation and hot weather winding down, we are continuing to stay active and busy in community events, and loving it!  A few highlights of the last 3 weeks include singing and digging into the earth at “Planting Flowers Planting Hope” with Ruth Pelham and the Music Mobile, painting faces at African American Family Day, and presenting art and essay awards at15 Love.  Reading to summer camp kids at the Colonie Youth Bureau was an experience that holds a special place in my heart.  Many of the kids I knew because I worked at the camp for the previous five summers.  Several of them remembered me, but for this visit they looked at me with wider eyes and listened with more attentive ears.  They admired the crown and sash and seemed to really enjoy the story hour. 

It is a particularly exciting time for us because we recently finalized our first program to enhance the Mayor’s Literacy Campaign.   “Lights, Camera, Literacy” is coming to the Albany Main Library in the Tulip Queen Reading Room on September 15th and 29th at 7:00 p.m.  At this program, we will be reading to children fun and exciting books with a literary conflict and omitting the ending.  The participants, with the Tulip Queen and Court’s assistance and guidance, will then form their own ending in small groups through teamwork and imagination and using costumes and props, and then perform their skits to the group as a whole.  After, the Tulip Queen and Court will read the true ending of the story.  Throughout the program, we will be raffling off prizes to the participants.  Through “Lights, Camera, Literacy” we hope to encourage and stimulate teamwork and creativity, and promote interest in and joy of reading.  The program is free and we welcome children of all ages, and encourage you to pre-register to solidify your child’s spot by calling the Main Library at 427-4300; however, walk-ins are also welcome!  A special thank you to all of the people who helped to make this program possible through their contributions, support, encouragement, and cooperation. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer and we look forward to seeing you at future events and "Lights, Camera, Literacy!"

Posted by: Hannah Walker, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday August 16, 2011


Hello Albany!

August has arrived and this summer is flying by faster than I expected. Being on the Tulip Court has been a whirlwind of activity, but I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything. We've been able to partner with a huge variety of organizations and we've met amazing people who are committed to making Albany better. I'm truly humbled and inspired by the dedication and passion I've seen.

One special lady we've been able to meet is Fazana Saleem-Ismail. She is the founder of Jazzy Sun Birthdays, a project committed to giving children staying homeless shelters, the joy and excitement of having a personalized birthday party. Fazana wants these children, whose lives are in a state of flux, to have a taste of normalcy and fun.  So far she has been hosting a monthly party at St. Catherine's for any children who have birthdays within that month. Since getting started, she has been able to collect donations and many have volunteered their time to help. We had the privilege of helping Fazana with her party in July.

As helpers at the party, we were able to see all the hard work that Fazana puts into each event. She had been told about some of the children's interests and tried to gear the decorations, games, crafts and presents to each birthday kid's likes. The theme at this party was sports and mickey mouse. When we first arrived we had to ask the children to leave the recreation room until the party was ready. Then we got to work transforming the room into a birthday wonderland. All of the children were excited and kept peaking at us through the window. Some of the children had attended last month's party and you could tell they were thrilled to be able to attend another one.

When we were finally ready, the kids were antsy and waiting at the door. We had about 15 kids attend and some parents also came in. During the course of the party we made mickey mouse masks, decorated book marks, ate pizza and cake and played a couple of games. At one point we started up a Wii and Tulip Queen Karen got her dance on with the kids while they played the Micheal Jackson Experience. Another highlight of the party was our competitive, yet funny game of Mickey Says.  By the end of the party kids were smiling and enjoying the fun, just like kids should. It's so rewarding to know we could help give all of them an afternoon to feel special. The happiness and smiles we saw that day are just another reminder of why we all wanted to be a part of the Tulip Court. Thank you Fazana for allowing us to be a part of your wonderful project!

Posted by: Kelly Landers, 2011 Tulip Court

Wednesday July 20, 2011


Hello Albany!


These past couple months have been crazy fun! I’ve also learned a lot too!  This past weekend we went out to GE's Kids Day at the Plaza and had a blast painting faces all day.  Before I was a member of the 2011 Tulip Court, I never thought I would ever paint faces.  I’ve never considered myself artistic at all! However, I’ve realized a simple rainbow on a child’s cheek can make his or her day.  My favorite part of that day was running into a child that I met at a prior event that I went to.  

Albany Community Charter School held a Grand Prize Reading Celebration where the two students who read the most books for each grade were honored and celebrated.  I was happy to see one of the little girls I sat with at that event in my line to get her face painted.  Marjorie also ran into a young boy who was at the Salvation Army Family Fun Night which we also attended.

Making connections and meeting new people have been some of my favorite parts of being a member of the 2011 Tulip Court.  You realize what a small world it is as you interact with different organizations and programs.   I think that in our months to come we will all continue to meet the wonderful diverse people of this beautiful city!

Posted by: Katie Headd, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday July 12, 2011


Hi Albany!

I have been having so much fun the last few months being a part of the 2011 Tulip Queen and Court. This past week Kelly and I even got the opportunity to meet Thompson Square at Alive @ Five. There was an amazing turn out that night and we had so much fun!

Currently we are working together to finalize our project for The Mayor Jennings Literacy Campaign. Part of our goal with this project is to make sure that kids keep reading all summer! We will be at several events this summer that will emphasize having fun while reading. As the Tulip Queen and Court we have had the opportunity to meet a lot of children and we hope to meet even more of you soon! Please don’t hesitate to come over and say hello, you could even tell us about any good books you have read lately! I hope you are enjoying your summer so far, happy reading!

Posted by: Marjorie Adriance, 2011 Tulip Court

Tuesday July 5, 2011



Summer is in full swing and with it many activities.  We’ve enjoyed working with children at the many events we have attended.  We’ve met some really great kids at the Salvation Army’s Family Fun Night.  They are so funny and we cannot stop talking about them and look forward to seeing them again next month.  Alive at Five has been a personal favorite of mine.  We got to meet Vertical Horizon and have our picture taken with them and thoroughly enjoyed Thompson Square last week.  We are hoping for beautiful weather so that everyone can enjoy them at the Albany Riverfront Park - I hope to see you all there.

We are also very busy finalizing our project proposal for the Mayor Gerry Jennings Literacy Campaign.  We are excited about our idea and hope that we will be able to begin sharing it will all of you very soon.

Look for us at Albany city events - we're the ones wearing matching outfits and sashes.  We'd love to meet you! 


Posted by: Karen Colehour, 2011 Tulip Queen

Tuesday June 14, 2011


Greetings Albany!

Get to know the 2011 Tulip Queen and Court a little better:

-Three of our first names begin with “K”

-Two of us are graduate students

-Two of us have been skydiving

-One of us wrote and published a children’s book

-One of us likes the smell of skunks

-All of us love Albany!


Can you believe it’s been over a month since my Court and I began our year of reign?  We can’t! Following a wonderful coronation and Tulip Festival weekend, we quickly found ourselves enthusiastic for and busy with many events.  Our first official début as the 2011 Tulip Queen and Court was at the Teresian House, where we assisted the residents in participating in their annual fashion show.  To conclude our first week of reign, we had the privilege of cutting the ribbon to officially begin the 42nd annual Grecian Festival, where we feasted on a variety of Greek dishes and food, including my personal favorite, spanakopita!  We also had the pleasure of enjoying and partaking in the Mendelssohn Club Concert, Eagle Point Literacy Celebration, Bens Jammin Art Project, and Memorial Day Parade.  It has been nothing short of an honor and delight to be the 2011 Tulip Queen and Court as we conclude our first month of reign.

We not only look forward to an exciting summer filled with events, but a year of reign that will bring fun, happiness, appreciation, and education to Albany County and to us!  We are also extremely eager to plan and put into action our own projects to enhance the Mayor's Literacy Program.  Please visit and our blog often for updates and we hope to see you soon!