Strawberry Festival: Meet Princess Brooklyn Giles

Brooklyn Giles has gone to the Strawberry Festival for the eight years she has lived in Lebanon, but had some reservations about being a princess.

“At first I didn’t think I had a chance because I’m not popular,” Giles said.

“As I’ve been growing up, I have to strive for what I want. I have to show other girls that they can do what they believe in. I thought that by applying to be a Strawberry Princess, I’d be doing that.”

Giles, 19, is the daugher of Toy and Katie Griffin and Carrie Giles, and the granddaughter of Janise and Donald Eggbert and Neva and Thomas Giles.

In keeping with the spirit of helping others, Giles plans to be an in-house social worker.

To prepare, she intends to major in psychology with a minor in sociology.

“Then I will study at either Portland State or George Fox for my masters, and receive my social workers masters degree,” she said.

As an in-house social worker, Giles would work with parents, guardians and children in their homes “to make sure the living environment is stable for the children.”

She has volunteered for local organizations, such as Family Tree Relief Nursery.

In her time as a Strawberry Princess, Giles has enjoyed visiting with children.

She said storytime at the Lebanon Public Library was one of her favorite stops.

“I just had so much fun with all the little kids and I knew a few of them,” she said. “One of them was my niece, one was a cousin and one a little girl that I teach in Sunday school. It’s cool seeing the kids that you know when you go to the different places.”

She said children don’t understand that the princesses are just high school students.

“Their eyes just light up, it just touches my heart,” Giles said. “I can’t emphasize enough how much.”

She said she  hopes to be a good role model for the younger generation, by just being herself.

“We can be super busy girls and still be true to ourselves,” Giles said. “Stick to what we believe in and just have fun and it’s not all about popularity and what you look like.

“We don’t have a whole bunch of make up on and we’re still happy and we still feel good about ourselves. It’s just about being kind to one another and giving back to your community, always, not just one time.”

She thinks the Strawberry Festival is something that everyone in Lebanon can enjoy.

“I feel like the Strawberry Festival is something that we look forward to and kids who don’t get to do much, they get to go to the parade,” Giles said. “It’s what we’re known for and to be a part of that, it was an honor to be selected.”

She has camped locally with her grandparents, usually at Sunnyside or Waterloo.

“(At) Sunnyside we could either go by the docks or the river,” Giles said. “We brought my volleyball net and we had big competitions with the other kids around us. My grandpa played and he used to play volleyball in high school, so it was really cool to watch.”

She would like to camp in Maupin, she said.

“Some of my family has been there,” Giles said. “(There is) no electricity, it’s completely open. (It can be) warm during day or freezing.”

What she’d like to do is play with her camera, read or write.

“I think it would be really nice to be cut off from electricity for a while,” she said.

When her Strawberry Court schedule opens up and before school starts, Giles plans to travel to California to visit family – who will be in Lebanon for the Strawberry Festival.

Giles said it was an honor to be chosen for the Strawberry Court.

“Being a princess isn’t about wearing your tiara and a sash and putting some makeup on,” she said. “It’s about reaching out and making different connections with people that you may have met before or may have never met. It’s about reaching out into your community and learning different lessons in life and just having fun and having a great new experience.

“It’s awesome to know that I’m always going to be part of the 2017 Strawberry Court.”