By Conrad Dudderar
With confidence and grace, Hannah Thomason is continuing the legacy of her Czech ancestors.
A 17-year-old junior at Yukon High School, Hannah is now part of Oklahoma Oklahoma royalty.
Hannah was crowned the 2022-23 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak junior queen during the 56th Annual Oklahoma Czech Festival on Oct. 1 in Yukon.
“Whenever they called my name, I was just super-grateful,” said Hannah, the daughter of Melody Duty and Todd Thomason. “I felt really, really confident about my performance this year.
“But I also had to keep in mind that I was up against some other amazing young women.”
This was Hannah’s second year running for Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. royalty as she shares the rich Czech traditions.
Other junior queen candidates were Yukon’s Kate Rex, Oklahoma City’s Sophie Gering and Edmond’s Ava Yanda.
“I was a little bit more nervous this year because I felt like we were all pretty even,” she related. “It was hard to tell who was going to win.
“We were all rooting for each other.”
Candidates for queen, junior queen, prince, and princess competed during the 2022 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak Pageant on Sept. 25 at historic Yukon Czech Hall.
“I felt a lot more prepared than I did last year,” Hannah shared. “Last year, we kind of just ‘jumped’ into it. This year, I had a lot of people in my corner, and a lot of people I got coaching from.”
The junior queen competition featured kroj (national dress) modeling, on-stage interviews and essays. Contestants also had private interviews with the pageant judges.
Hannah and the other Oklahoma Czech-Royalty contestants had to wait until Yukon’s Czech Day the following Saturday to find out who would win the 2022-23 royalty titles.
A lifelong Yukon resident, Hannah takes seriously the traditions of the Czech people. She enjoys baking braided Hoska bread and kolache with her family. She’s also a member of the Czech Folk Dancers and attends Czech School.
Oklahoma’s new Junior Czech Queen is especially grateful to her mother.
“She was there for me, always helped me with my essays and getting my kroj ready,” Hannah said.
BUSY YEAR AHEAD
A busy next 12 months awaits Junior Queen Hannah and fellow members of the royal court, Queen Jayden Mason of Stillwater, Princess London Lippencott of Mustang and Prince Rex Gering of Oklahoma City.
The group will participate in festivals, parades and other special events representing Oklahoma Czechs, Inc. as they promote Czech culture.
“I’m excited to represent our heritage, spread it around the state and meet new people,” Hannah said. “Our first event is the Veterans Day Parade in Norman.”
Passing the crown to Hannah on Oct. 1 was the 2021-22 Oklahoma Czech-Slovak junior queen, Aspen Hein. Aspen and Hannah are good friends and YHS classmates.
Aspen helped Hannah prepare for the recent royalty competition, keeping her from becoming too nervous.
“I’ve been looking up to Aspen this whole past year and I’ve been going to different parades and festivals with her,” she said.
That included a recent trip to Wilbur, Neb. for the Miss Czech-Slovak US Pageant, where they supported last year’s Oklahoma Queen Anna Sedivy-Thompson.
Also helping Hannah has been another good friend, Miss Czech-Slovak US second runner-up Cecilia Minchow.
“Cecilia has been through many pageants, and she was giving me a lot of coaching, which was very sweet,” Hannah said.
As one would expect, Hannah also is active at YHS. She’s a member of the girls’ golf team and Partners Club, and an officer with the Colla Voce audition choir.
For many years, Hannah didn’t realize she was of Czech descent. Her fourth paternal great-grandfather came from Beroun, a town in the central Bohemian region of the Czech Republic.
“Now, it’s more fun because I get to be part of the festival instead of just attending it,” she added. “I do miss watching the parade and walking around to all the booths. Now, I’m in the parade and dancing.”