Princess Kimberly O’Hara

Kimberly O’Hara’s favorite part about the Strawberry Festival is the fact that all the families in Lebanon come together to take part in the event.
O’Hara, 18, recalls childhood memories of sitting along Santiam Highway with her family to watch the parade. They would wait for candy to be thrown from the floats. And the days were always hot, so they’d get something cold, like Otter Pops.
“It’s like a whole day of activities for kids,” she said. “I think that that is such a special thing about the Strawberry Festival, that they come together and go out and watch it, and it’s a huge community thing.”
It’s important to keep those kinds of traditions alive because it means so much to the community members, O’Hara said. Especially now that COVID has taken so much from people.
Being able to keep the traditions, and being able to come back together with those traditions after such a difficult time is a huge thing, she said.
Growing up, she always enjoyed spending time with the princesses when they would visit the elementary classes during lunch.
She said she thought the princesses were “so cool,” being involved in the community, and participating in different activities, groups and sports.
“I was definitely inspired by that,” she said.
For O’Hara, being a Strawberry Princess means being able to be a role model for children and the community. It also means making an impact in some way for people.
“Others can see that they can achieve it as well, and that when they put in the hard work, that good things come from that and that there are great opportunities out there,” she said.
Being accepted into the Strawberry Court, O’Hara had a lot of hopes, but knew COVID would hinder their usual activities.
“I was very much looking forward to interacting with the children in the community, and sort of being able to visit with them about different things,” she said.
She also looked forward to taking part in a lot of the community activities during the year, she said. One of her favorite experiences so far was going to the Boys & Girls Club and visiting the kids in the different classrooms.
“That was really neat, to be able to see their excitement for us being there and our excitement for being able to see them and interact with them,” O’Hara said.
She also noted the Walk a Mile for a Child event had an impact on her because she learned more about why Dala’s Blue Angels holds the fundraiser every year.
O’Hara really appreciates Lebanon because it’s a city that’s big enough to have large community-involved events, such as the Strawberry Festival and Walk A Mile for a Child, but it’s still relatively small.
“There’s still a strong sense of community and community involvement and community activities,” she said. “And you can still see someone that you know (at the store) or on the weekend doing some random event.”
If she could do anything as a princess on the court, it would be to host an event with the youth in Lebanon, she said. That might look something like a huge parade wherein all the kids felt like they were involved as princes and princesses, too.
O’Hara loves kids. She enjoys working with the kids at her church, and plans to do pediatric nursing for her career.
“They just speak what’s on their mind and can just come up with conversation starters, even if it’s as simple as ‘I got new shoes today,’” she said. “And the way that they look at the world is just, like, with a view that’s a lot lighter than the serious tone that adults have a lot of the time.”
O’Hara believes she’s got a natural knack for communication.
For her, it involves “being able to listen and understand sort of what they’re thinking, and the feelings and places that they’re coming from, and being able to sort of almost summarize that back to them to understand them correctly,” she explained.
O’Hara also likes hiking and being outdoors, spending time with friends and family, drawing, and crocheting.
It was her aunt who taught her how to crochet. With that skill, O’Hara crochets animals, such as penguins, owls, dogs and giraffes. She is currently crocheting a duck.
One thing she has learned this past year because of COVID is that intentionality is extremely important in maintaining relationships with friends and family, she said.
“It really takes that effort and intentionality to continue to grow the friendship, and it just means a whole lot more when the friendship is continuing based on intentionality versus just convenience,” O’Hara said.